It looks like grassroots groups are going after Max Baucus (D-MT, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee). He is an important player in this process, and is getting pressure from liberal groups to come through on things like the public option. It’s starting to sound like everyone just wants this thing done soon.
Check out this round-up from Our Bodies, Our Blog.
Rachel Maddow goes into the politics of health care reform with Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA).
A report released by HCAN offers a bleak narrative of current and projected health care coverage in New York State. It shows the failures of the system: the fact that there are 2.6 million uninsured New Yorkers, and the rate of unemployment in New York is up after just 19 months from 4.6 to 7.7%. Health insurance premiums have increased 81% in New York from 2000 – 2007, and there are 1.3 million working non-elderly people that are not insured. HCAN also states that the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance is expected to grow at a rate of 7.4%, as compared with the expected 0.8% growth of income in the state.
In response to these alarming statistics, HCAN offers some solutions. Their recommendations to policy makers include providing regionally adjusted federal subsidies to those who qualify for private insurance. This adjustment would ensure that consumers have access to affordable health insurance costs of living are so variable. Also, HCAN recommends that individuals, employers, and the government share the costs to extend coverage to every person, and that the government does not tax hard-earned benefits.
The report says that benefit packages should be comprehensive and that there should be no annual or lifetime caps on benefits. The report goes into the more qualitative effects of health care costs on families and individuals, the damages being done to small businesses, and the heart breaking costs of a system that seems to do more harm than good. Over the past 9 years there has been a 120% increase in cost of health insurance but only a 29% increase in wages. The United States spends $2.5 trillion dollars per year within the health care system. Health Care for America Now insists that this is a problem that can and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Also take a look at this report done by Families USA that shows these same trends appearing across the country.
Check out the following resources for information about immigration issues important to health reform. These issues overlap with work Raising Women’s Voices does and we share the goal of affordable, quality, accessible health care for every person.
An interesting article from Feministing about midwives and health reform. Check it out!
The big news is this: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee members have released their amendments for the bill. These amendments include a series of refusal clauses, unborn child protections, and changes from just rape to “forcible rape”. See the post from earlier today here.
In other news, President Barack Obama attempts to rephrase comments made by his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, about the White House’s willingness to go along with a trigger option (a public plan “triggered” by worsening economic situations and further worsening of availability/affordability of private insurance). The President insists that he still strongly supports a public option and that Emanuel’s comment was misconstrued.
In other news, one of the leaders of the Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV) has ordered Senator Max Baucus (D-MT, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee) to stop the watering down of the SFC health care reform proposal. Reid asserted that it is less important to get some Republican votes and more important to get more Democratic votes that will come along with a strong public option and not taxing benefits.
If conservatives get their way on health reform, we will soon have quality, affordable health care for all — except for women, terminally ill patients, gays and lesbians, people with HIV and anybody else conservatives don’t like!
A slew of proposed amendments submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee Tuesday night would hobble that committee’s health reform proposal. Republican Senators Michael Enzi, Orin Hatch and Tom Coburn have proposed that:
* Coverage for abortion would be banned;
* Health providers and insurers would be protected against “discrimination” for refusing to provide health care requested by their patients including abortions, removal of feeding tubes from terminally ill patients, aid-in-dying (such as in Oregon, Washington and Montana, where this is legal) or really just about any health service they find objectionable;
* Federally-qualified health centers could not provide abortions and still get government grants;
* Any independent medical advisory board empaneled to offer advice to HHS on the benefits to be included in national health reform coverage would have to include “professional ethicists…with specialty in rights of the life of the unborn.”
These amendments would be damaging to women’s health and they don’t have public support. Public opinion research shows that large majorities of U.S. voters understand that reproductive health services are part of basic health care for women. Make sure the Senate HELP committee members know that the public supports health care reform that includes these reproductive health services and opposes exclusions like the ones being proposed. We want medical experts and citizens to make these decisions, NOT politicians.
If your Senator is one of these, let him or her know that you and the majority of US voters want them to stand strong for health reform that doesn’t include political exclusions: Edward Kennedy (MA); Christopher Dodd (CT); Barbara A. Mikulski (MD); Jeff Bingaman (NM); Patty Murray (WA); Jack Reed (RI); Bernard Sanders (VT); Sherrod Brown (OH); Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA); Kay Hagan (NC); Jeff Merkley (OR). You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, please cc email@example.com so we can track and feature your excellent letters!
We’ve been following Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome, a great blog about a Canadian pro-choicer who is a volunteer co-coordinator of a Clinic in New Brunswick. Check it out, and give her props for the work she does.
It seems that the President is negotiating a fine line between being too involved in health reform and not involved enough. Yesterday he hosted five governors (Republicans and Democrats) who the administration considers possible allies in the fight for reform. By influencing senators and congresspeople through their governors, the President retains a kind of outsider position, which may be advantageous. Preventing a tax on employee benefits and ensuring the public plan option seem to be the two things most at risk.
It looks as if the Senate Finance Committee will be releasing their draft of the health reform bill right after the July 4th recess. The Senate HELP Committee and the Tri-Committee (Labor and Pensions, Ways and Means, and Health and Education) of the House will continue hearings and mark-up through next week. If things go smoothly, it is still possible there could be floor debates in September and a resulting bill on the desk of the President by mid-October. Things may not go so smoothly and we’ll have to wait a bit longer for revisions to be finished up. Stay tuned right here for the latest updates and what you can do to make sure your concerns are represented.
An article from the Washington Post about why reform is so important, and an overview by Time Magazine. Also, a word from Max Baucus (D-MT, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee). He’s saying what he’s said for…a long time. But are there answers? And finally, and organization pushing representatives in congress to actually read the bills. God forbid.