Thanks to you, momentum is building to move forward and finish comprehensive health care reform legislation in Congress in the next few weeks.
Last week, President Obama put forward his own blueprint for how Congress can proceed, and the White House convened a bi-partisan summit to bring Congressional leaders of both parties together to air their concerns and differences and attempt to identify any common ground.
These developments came on the heels of a week in mid-February when thousands of Americans took to the streets and called on Congressmembers to act on health care reform, including our own very successful Brooklyn Bridge march. Taken all together, these events have shaken our political leaders out of their lethargy and paralysis -- they know they must act, and that the status quo is not an option because it is not sustainable.
In the meantime, millions of Americans are now engaged in a mass effort to get a new public health insurance option included back in a final bill. Thanks to your phone calls and emails, over 120 House members and 30 Senators (and counting!) have signed letters to Congressional leaders calling for a public option. Both our NY Senators have signed on as have many House members from our state -- see the complete lists at http://whipcongress.com/?source=huff-ag-announce1
You can also join at least 200,000 Americans who have already signed an on-line e-petition is support of a public option at: http://act.boldprogressives.org/cms/sign/bipartisanship/?source=huff-ag-announcement1
What's up next?
The goal is to get a good, final bill passed by the Easter-Passover recess, a mere month from now. Who's standing in the way? The special interests, of course, and their political shills in Congress. (Need you ask?) At the top of the list of nay-sayers is "Big Insurance" who is trying to stop any kind of REAL health care reform from moving ahead in Congress. Here's what kind of reform insurers want to see in a final bill:
- no public option
- no national insurance exchange
- mandates for individuals/families to buy insurance (if you don't have employer coverage or qualify for a public program)
- little or no regulation of premium prices and increases
- allowing premium discrimination based on age
- allowing premium discrimination based on whether or not you participate in, or how well you progress in or respond to, a wellness program
- no or low minimum medical-loss ratios
- policies with low actuarial values (high deductibles, lots of co-pays, limits on amounts of services)
- sub-par policies for young adults
- weak oversight roles for state-based exchanges and regulators
GET ON THE BUS!
On Tues. March 9, thousands of Americans are going to descend on Washington, DC for a major protest called "Shut Them Down", taking place outside a conference of the health insurance trade association and lobby (known as "America's Health Insurance Plans" or "AHIP".) The event will be a "rolling protest" comprised of a variety of creative and/or confrontational affinity group-based activities that will start at 12 noon and continue on through the afternoon. It's all designed to call out the insurance industry and its long and shameful history of profiteering at the expense of the sick and injured. We also want to call attention their efforts to either stop reform outright (for almost a century now), or shape reform to suit their interests (see list above) instead of the public interest.
The goal is of this day of action is to make the insurance industry radio-active politically, much as what has happened to "Big Tobacco", "Big Pharma" and "Big Banks" in recent years. If you've got a compelling story to tell about YOUR experience with insurance coverage, this event is your opportunity to speak up, speak out, and take action. There may also be an opportunity for some people to visit their Congressmembers' offices on Capitol Hill while in town, to express their opinions on health care reform and to say "Listen to us, the people -- not Big Insurance companies."
Buses will be leaving from NYC from various union locations (check with yours, if you are a member), and also from a central location in Manhattan (TBA) for community-based activists. To sign-up for a community bus, simply go to www.tinyurl.com/march9rally and someone will get back in touch with you about specifics. These buses will be leaving NYC between 5-6 a.m. and are expected to arrive back home by mid-late evening. If your organization thinks you can fill a bus on your own, let us know ASAP, and we'll see what we can do to arrange something convenient for you.
Thanks for all you do in the fight for health care for all New Yorkers and all in America -- see you on the bus!
Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign
One Hudson Square
75 Varick Street, Suite 1404
DC 1707 AFSCME
New York, NY 10013