Senate Democrats

Public Interest Groups Voice Support For Senate Health Insurance Proposal, Continuing Momentum For Reform

Washington, DC – Numerous public interest groups have released statements in support of the Senate health insurance reform legislation, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  These organizations support the reform proposal by Senate Democrats, which lowers costs, creates choice and competition and improves the quality of care, because they understand the cost of inaction.  These statements of support indicate the strong momentum for reform that continues to build:

AARP – “The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage. Too often, those who fall into this coverage gap stop taking their prescription drugs because they simply can’t afford to. The new bill adds a new $500 down payment for prescription drug costs in the doughnut hole in 2010.”(AARP Press Release, 11-18-09)

Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager, Health Care for America Now – “HCAN applauds Majority Leader Reid for introducing legislation that will provide more affordable health coverage to America’s families and businesses, stop insurance company abuses, and provide the choice of a public health insurance option. We urge the full Senate to get to work quickly on debating this legislation, considering reasonable amendments, and sending a bill to conference as soon as possible.  Congress must do all it can to deliver to the President reforms that guarantee good, affordable coverage for our families and businesses and establish a healthy foundation for our economy…” (HCAN Press Release, 11-19-09)

Andy Stern, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – “For close to a century, Presidents and congressional leaders have debated ways to fix our healthcare system. A system that leaves too many hardworking families struggling to get by or facing economic ruin. Each go round, politics, special interests and scare tactics said we can’t. ‘We can’t change. We can’t make our country better. We just can’t.’ Not this time.

“Just eleven days ago, the United States House of Representatives defined leadership by passing the historic Affordable Health Care for America Act. And now, under Senator Reid’s strong leadership, the Senate has introduced their own legislation that gets us one step closer to healthcare that works for the American people’s bottom line, instead of insurance company profits. Senator Reid listened to the American people and made sure this bill keeps insurance companies from controlling our healthcare system by guaranteeing choice and accountability through a public health care option.” (SEIU Press Release, 11-19-09)

Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO – “We commend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for bringing forward a health care bill that moves us closer to the historic goal of health care for America – high quality, affordable health care for all in our rich nation.  The Senate leadership bill takes the strongest steps yet to bring down costs.  But the bill is not perfect.  It retains a version of the excise tax from the Senate Finance Committee bill.  We continue to believe that a tax on working families’ benefits is the wrong way to finance health care and we will work hard to eliminate this provision as the bill heads to the floor. 

“The bill’s inclusion of a public insurance plan option to hold private insurance companies accountable is a tremendous step.  And the legislation should be praised for its other fair financing plans, including an increase in the Medicare tax on the wealthiest and an employer responsibility requirement, which we believe should be expanded to include more employers.  The bill would expand access by covering 94 percent of Americans and reduce the deficit by $130 billion over 10 years.  Today another hurdle is cleared and we are optimistic that good, affordable care for working families will soon be law.” (AFL-CIO Press Release, 11-19-09)

Robert Greenstein, Executive Director, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities – “The new Senate health bill marks a major step toward comprehensive, fiscally responsible health reform. It would extend health insurance coverage to 31 million Americans who lack it, reduce the budget deficit, and put long-term downward pressure on health care costs.” (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Press website, obtained 11-18-09)

Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA – “For America’s families, the key assessment about health insurance reform will be a personal pocketbook test, namely: Will the legislation result in needed financial relief for families struggling to pay for health coverage and care? The newly announced Senate bill scores high marks on the personal pocketbook test-making health insurance much more affordable for hard-working middle-class American families. 

“Through tax-credit subsidies made available for plans in a newly created marketplace, the Senate bill limits a family of four with income under about $88,000 a year from spending more than 9.8 percent of the family’s budget on health insurance premiums. With the average cost of family health insurance coverage at $13,000 a year, families could see their insurance costs cut in half or more. This affordability protection in the new bill is stronger than the previous provisions in the Senate Finance Committee bill.

“As the bill moves forward, we urge that the pocketbook test scores continue to improve-with special attention to America’s lowest-income families who have little room in their family budgets for spending on premiums, deductibles, or copayments. We hope that the Senate bill passes soon and that the strongest affordability protections possible are established in the Conference Committee bill.” (Families USA Press Release, 11-19-09)

Hilary O. Shelton, Director and Senior V.P., Advocacy and Policy, NAACP Washington Bureau – “On behalf of the NAACP, our nation’s oldest, largest and most widely-recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization, I strongly urge you to join us in supporting H.R. 3950, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This important legislation will improve access to more Americans to vital health care and, in doing so, will save lives and help alleviate the needless suffering and hardships that we continue to witness today.” (NAACP Letter, 11-19-09)

Rosa Rosales, President, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) – “As the community with the highest percentage of uninsured, Latinos have the most to gain from the Senate’s health care bill.  We commend Senator Reid for his efforts and look forward to working with the full Senate to ensure that the final bill covers as many Americans as possible with access to affordable quality insurance.” (Latinos United for Health Care Press Release, 11-19-09)

Dr. Vivek Murthy, President, Doctors for America – “As physicians, we see patients caught in our broken health care system every day. Doctors across the country have told us that our health care system must be fixed so we can take better care of our patients. By addressing some of the most glaringly inadequate aspects of our health care system, the Senate’s proposal offers hope to doctors and patients who want reform this year.” (Doctors for America Press Release, 11-19-09)

National Rural Health Association (NRHA) – “…The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, introduced by Majority Leader Reid, takes important and positive steps in helping to resolve the access to care crisis in rural America.  The NRHA applauds the critical investment made in the bill in developing and improving the health care workforce, especially in rural America.   Additionally, the Senate bill makes positive improvements in correcting systemic payment inequities that have plagued rural providers.  The NRHA strongly supports these efforts and recognizes them as the important building blocks needed to resolve the access to care crisis in rural America…” (NRHA Press Release, 11-19-09)

Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families – “Today, the nation is poised to take a historic step toward meaningful health insurance reform. The introduction of the Senate’s health insurance reform bill puts us closer than ever to providing families in America with insurance coverage they can count on. We commend Senator Reid and the Senate Democratic leadership team for bringing the nation closer to this point. We urge the Senate to quickly debate and move forward, so we can secure comprehensive, quality health care for all.

“The Senate bill delivers on the promise of reform in key ways… The time for health insurance reform is now. We’re closer, but there is more work ahead. The nation needs a healthy, open debate from the Senate. We look forward to working with Senators to ensure that health insurance reform truly translates into affordable, comprehensive, quality health care for every woman and every family.” (National Partnership for Women & Families Press Release, 11-19-09)

Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) – “The National Women’s Law Center is pleased that the Senate is moving forward on this critical legislation that will make health care more accessible for millions of women and their families and will extend more affordable coverage to those who need it the most. Today, millions of women depend on a health care system that is failing them. They face unfair and discriminatory insurance industry practices, have trouble affording necessary care, and struggle to find insurance that covers the benefits they need. The Patient Protection and Affordability Act takes an important step in the right direction to address these problems.

“The Center will continue our work to ensure that health care reform becomes a reality. We also will work tirelessly to ensure that health care reform contains the protections that women must have to be able to obtain the full range of care they and their families need.” (NWLC Press Release, 11-19-09)

John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO, Small Business Majority – “The Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a clear win for small businesses and constructively addresses past criticisms of healthcare reform. It puts us on the cusp of reforming our nation’s broken healthcare system, and getting the country’s 28 million small business owners some desperately needed relief from skyrocketing healthcare costs.” (Small Business Majority Press Release, 11-19-09)

The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging – “The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) commends Senator Reid (D-Nev.) for his leadership on ensuring that the Community Living and Supportive Services (CLASS) Plan provisions are included in the Senate’s health reform bill. Long-term services and supports are an essential part of health care and the financing of them is in dire need of reform. We are also grateful to Sen. Dodd (D-Conn.) for carrying the torch for Sen. Kennedy on the CLASS provisions, Sen. Gregg (R-NH) for bringing bipartisan support with his significant contributions to the CLASS Plan, and Sen. Baucus (D-Mont.) for offering improvements in Medicaid and Medicare that will help seniors and younger people with disabilities…” (AAHSA Press Release, 11-18-09)

Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research – “Senator Reid has come up with a serious proposal that has a good chance of moving the process forward. It will no doubt be difficult to get to 60 votes in the Senate, but he has done the right thing in putting down a good bill and putting the pressure on the Republicans and holdout Democrats. This is a bill that will provide real security to people who now have health insurance coverage, but know that they would lose it if they ever get a serious illness. It will also insure the bulk of the uninsured. Do the obstructionist senators really want to tell their constituents that they blocked a vote on a bill that would accomplish both without adding to the deficit? This is sort of like going to the Superbowl and running on the field so that they couldn’t play the game. That’s not likely to be a big vote getter.” (Politico Arena website, obtained 11-19-09)

WISC Faith Groups (Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Disciples Justice Action Network [Disciples of Christ], The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Faithful Reform in Health Care, Islamic Society of North America, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.] Washington Office, Progressive National Baptist Convention, The Rabbinical Assembly, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society & Washington Office of Public Policy, Women’s Division, United Methodist Church) – “We are pleased that the U.S. Congress has answered the call for health care reform and is working diligently to expand health care availability to all Americans. We look to the Senate at this important juncture to keep to a vision of comprehensive health care reform that is affordable, accessible, inclusive and accountable. As people of faith, we envision a society where each person is afforded health, wholeness and human dignity. We are advocates of health care that is affordable, available to all, and in which access to quality health services is not limited by income, age, gender, race or ethnicity, geography, employment status or health status.” (WISC Letter, 11-19-09)

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) – “The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) is a coalition of twenty-seven national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations that represents the interests, concerns and needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities. NCAPA applauds the Senate for introducing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the House of Representatives for passing a historic health care reform bill on Saturday, November 7. Passage of the House bill and prompt introduction of the Senate bill are clear moves in the right direction toward improving the current health care system. NCAPA is invested in continuing our work with members of both the House and Senate to ensure the passage of legislation that truly meets the needs of our communities and works towards the best interest of this country…” (NCAPA Press Release, 11-19-09)

Support from Over 50 Organizations – “The undersigned 50 national organizations representing older adults, people with disabilities, and those who serve them thank you for including the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program in the Senate Patient Protection and Affordability Act.  As you continue to move forward in your historic effort to reshape health care in this country, we applaud you for recognizing that long-term services and supports need to be addressed.  Older individuals and people with disabilities should have the right to live as independently as possible in their own homes and communities, and to receive the help they need without having to spend down into poverty.  Your legislation will help them to do just that. The voluntary CLASS insurance program will promote independence, choice, dignity and personal responsibility.  It is self-funded and fiscally responsible.  It will also strengthen the economy and business productivity.” (Letter from AARP; Alliance for Aging Research; Alzheimer’s Association; American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging; American Association of People with Disabilities; American Association on Health and Disability; American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; The American Geriatrics Society; American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association; American Music Therapy Association; American Network of Community Options and Resources; The Arc of the United States; Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs; Association of Jewish Aging Services of North America; Association of University Centers on Disabilities; Autism Society; Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; B’nai B’rith International; Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions; Center for Medicare Advocacy; Council for Learning Disabilities; Easter Seals; Family Voices; Higher Education Consortium for Special Education; The Jewish Federations of North America; Lutheran Services in America; NISH; National Alliance for Caregiving; National Alliance on Mental Illness; National Association of Area Agencies on Aging; National Association of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs; National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs; National Association of State Head Injury Administrators; National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare; National Council on Aging; National Council on Independent Living; National Disability Organization; National Disability Rights Network; National Down Syndrome Congress; National Senior Corps Association; National Senior Citizens Law Center; National Spinal Cord Injury Association; NCCNHR: The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care; OWL – The Voice of Midlife and Older Women; Paralyzed Veterans of America; Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children; United Cerebral Palsy; United Spinal Association; Volunteers of America; World Institute on Disability, 11-19-09)