Health Care Reform

Written by Christianity and the Confusion on October 19th, 2009



PSN Leaders & Allied Legislators Meet With White House and Capitol Hill Leaders on Health Care Reform

With final negotiations moving forward on Capitol Hill on a final health care reform bill, over two dozen state legislators met with the White House and Capitol Hill leaders to share views of how to build a strong state-federal partnership to provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Working with the Progressive States Network and the White House Work Group of State Legislators for Health Reform, the legislators met with over thirty Congressional offices, including directly with Senators Tom Harkin, Mary Landrieu,  Mary Cantwell, Max Baucus, Chuck Grassley, Amy Klobuchar, Patty Murray, the top staff of Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and top White House officials including David Axelrod and Nancy-Ann DeParle. (See full list of participating state legislators and Capitol Hill leaders they met with below).  

The legislators shared state concerns on a wide range of issues and highlighted the need for balancing strong federal standards with promoting continued innovation by state policymakers.

1000+ State Legislators for Health Care Reform

Part of the message that legislators brought to D.C. was the wide support by state leaders for reform.   The meetings followed the announcement last week by Progressive States Network that 1,057 state legislators from all 50 states have signed letters to President Obama and Congress asking for real health reform, including a public health insurance option, strong affordability protections, and shared responsibility among individuals, employers and government for health care costs. (See here for letters and signatories in the states).

“President Obama and Congressional leaders recognize that state legislators have been on the front lines of health care reform for decades,” said Texas Representative Garnet Coleman, co-chair of Progressive States Network. “Most proposed elements of federal reform are based on ideas already debated and in many cases enacted in the states.  So state legislators know what is needed to make reform work.”  

In addition to these letters showing broad-based state legislator support for reform, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in August voted to support federal health care reform, including a public health insurance option. (See full NCSL health reform policy and excerpts of key points). The vote at the annual NCSL conference was overwhelming, with representatives of 38 states supporting the resolution. As Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch (D, Des Moines), who is chair of the White House Work Group and introduced the amendment at NCSL, said “We sent a very clear message to people dragging their feet in Washington: the time to act on health reform is now. We need a public health insurance option to make sure working families and small businesses are free to choose the best health care available at a price they can afford.”

State legislators and our allies have been having a tremendous impact on the D.C. health care debate. As Tom Harkin said of our work back in June during the first legislator delegation to D.C. that PSN organized, “Thank you for your tremendous leadership… This is very meaningful what you are doing here and at the White House, because I can assure you that there are powerful forces at work to keep us from having a public plan.”

View video coverage of Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, speaking at the Progressive States Network press conference on Capitol Hill in June by clicking on the video still below:

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