NASW Health Care Reform Roundup – August 5, 2009

Legislation

The Energy and Commerce Committee reached a deal on America’s Affordable Health Choice Act of 2009, H.R. 3200. The Ways and Means Committee and Education and Labor Committee had already reported the bill out of committee. On the Senate side, the Senate Finance Committee has six members meeting to reconcile differences.

Legislative Climate

With the House in recess and the Senate headed out on Aug. 7, the nature of the health care reform discussion has shifted.  Rather than worrying about legislative minutiae that can’t be resolved until September, both parties are now focused on how to explain the issue once they’re back home in their respective districts and states.  On one hand, both Democrats and Republicans need a narrative that is simple enough to understand, but not so simple that it insults voters’ intelligence and oversimplifies a complex issue.

President Obama has travel plans throughout the West to sell his understanding of recent developments.  Meanwhile, Democrats of every stripe (progressive, conservative Blue Dogs, and others) will be sharing their experiences with voters, while Republicans face the challenge of explaining to voters why Democrat-driven reform constitutes a needless and expensive government takeover.

Meetings Attended

NASW has attended several meetings on health care reform over the past week, including:

  • Alliance for Health Reform briefing on Financing Health Care Reform.
  • Families USA field organizing meetings.
  • Meeting with representatives of non-medical professions concerned with coverage requirements in health care reform.

· Conference call with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Mary Wakefield, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) regarding new funding for health care professions training.  See http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/07/20090728c.html for the press release.

Conference call with Tina Tchen, White House Office of Public Engagement and with Christina Romer, Chair, Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) regarding  small business and health care reform.  See http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/Weekly-Address-Health-Insurance-Reform-Small-Business-and-Your-Questions/ for a video by the President, as well as links to the findings in the report.

  • Meeting with Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and additional HRSA staff on areas of mutual interest regarding the health care professions.  Dr. Wakefield expressed support for the importance of social workers in health care.

Letters

  • NASW sent a letter of support for H.R. 3200 to Speaker Pelosi, Chairmen Waxman, Miller and Rangel.

Resources

Families USA has an August Recess Tool Kit available on their Web site for outreach efforts to members of Congress during the August recess. It’s a one-stop shop of tools and resources to help you galvanize your communities around the message that health reform cannot wait.

For ongoing information, please visit our health care page.

Keep up with the latest from NASW on Facebook, Twitter, and the NASW Advocacy Blog.  We want your feedback:  post to the Wall and leave your comments on the blog.

The White House has posted eight benefits of Health Insurance Reform and asked people to comment on them.  You can go to the Slide Share Web page and comment on them.

The White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report about the Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and their Employees.

One comment

  1. Social Workers should be concerned regarding the absence of Tort Reform in any of the Congressional bills. One step in cutting health care costs is to remove the need for “defensive medicine”–tons of needless tests ordered to avoid a malpractice suit. How many of us practice defensively as well?

    Additionally, Social Workers need to advocate toward health care models focused on “Medical Homes” and how we are well-qualified as care managers in this model. Right now the system is too fragmented–both publicly and privately-funded.

    Any single-payer system (public or private) is going to kill competition in the health care arena. That brings the bar for patient care DOWN, not up.

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