State Legislators for Progressive Health Care Reform

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State Legislators for Progressive Health Care Reform was a project of the Progressive States Network.

About

The letter was developed in consultation with national health care reform advocates, including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Community Catalyst, Families USA, Herndon Alliance, National Women's Law Center, Northeast Action, SEIU, and Universal Health Care Action Network.[1]

Text of the Letter

The text of the letter follows. Emphases as they appeared in the original letter.[1]

A Letter to President Obama and the Congress

Dear President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Members of the 111th US Congress:

As leaders in state legislatures across the country, we urgently call on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to take up and pass comprehensive health care reform in 2009.

The serious problems with health care in America – ever-rising costs, limited access, inconsistent quality, and waste and inefficiency – converge in the states. The effects of these problems stress state budgets, exhaust family resources, result in lost worker productivity, stifle entrepreneurial spirit, and literally cause tens of thousands of deaths each year.

Our disjointed health care system has formed a choke-hold on our economy, limiting job growth and economic development. We cannot fix the economy without fixing health care.

Over the past decade, state legislatures have debated and implemented a myriad of reforms to bring affordability, quality and fairness to health care in America – designing solutions that reflect each state’s unique economic, social, and geographic factors. States play a vital role in the health care for hundreds of millions of Americans, by administering and helping to fund public programs like Medicaid and SCHIP, enacting innovations to expand access to public and private coverage, and serving as watchdogs of health insurance companies and other players.

Yet, states cannot achieve guaranteed affordable health care for all without the investment, leadership and partnership of the federal government. Successful reform requires robust federal-state collaboration.

Key priorities for reform are reflected in recent state initiatives and public opinion polls which show that Americans want more choices and options for quality health care. Americans recognize that the private sector alone has proven incapable of creating a high-quality, fair, and accountable health care system that works for all families. Therefore, a key priority for reform is the choice of a public health insurance plan that is available to businesses, individuals, and families. Another key priority is strengthening and expanding the Medicaid program with the help of enhanced federal support so that it can serve all low-income Americans. Related priorities include: guaranteeing affordability for individuals and businesses; preserving consumer choice of doctors; eliminating racial, ethnic, gender, and rural health disparities; ensuring shared responsibility among employers, individuals and government in financing health care; and, cost containment strategies that eliminate waste and inefficiency and improve quality, especially for people with chronic illnesses.

Failure to pass national comprehensive health reform now will further jeopardize state and local budgets, undermining public services like education, public safety, and transportation infrastructure. The recently passed economic recovery package includes a number of positive health care measures, but these do not remove states from the critical list. Achieving a high-performing, affordable and quality health care system for all US residents is central to a sustainable economic recovery and to the health and financial security of all families, businesses, and governments.

We, the undersigned, call on President Obama and the Congress to enact bold and comprehensive health care reform this year – based on these principles and a strong federal-state collaboration – and pledge our support as state legislators and allies in pursuit of guaranteed, high quality, affordable health care for all.

Signatories

The following State Legislators were signatories to the letter:[2]

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

The following Connecticut state legislators were signatories to the letter:[3]

Delaware

Florida

  • Rep. Ronald Brise
  • Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, Member, Health and Family Services Policy Council
  • Rep. Mark Pafford, Member, Full Appropriations on General Government & Health Care
  • Rep. Elaine Schwartz, Ranking Minority Member, Healthy Seniors Appropriations; Member, Health and Family Services Policy Council Committee

Georgia

Guam

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

The following New Mexico state legislators were signatories to the letter:[4]

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Puerto Rico

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

References