NASW Health Care Reform Roundup – September 23, 2009

In an effort to keep you informed of the work NASW is doing on health care reform, we will periodically send out a roundup of activities.

5 Things to Do For Health Care Reform

  1. Attend a Town Hall Meeting in your area and discuss what you would like to see in health care reform.
  2. Contact your members of Congress about health care reform.
  3. Submit your health care stories to the White House.
  4. Keep informed of developments on health care reform.
  5. Join the NASW Advocacy listserv to be alerted of developments in health care reform.

President Addressed Joint Session of Congress to Discuss Health Reform

On September 9, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to lay out his plan for health reform.  The speech was viewed as a way to restart and focus the discussion on Capitol Hill on health reform legislation.  The President offered additional details to further shape the debate and move closer to consideration and passage of a final proposal.   The three main principles President Obama outlined to make his case for health reform include the following:

  • Provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance.
  • Provide insurance to those who don’t.
  • Lower the cost of health care

To read the plan, please go to:  White House plan

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Announces Release of Health Reform Bill

On September 16, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Senate Finance Committee Chairman introduced his highly anticipated health reform bill.  America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 would make major changes to the nation’s $2.5 trillion health care system, including requiring most people to purchase insurance coverage or pay a fine and prohibiting insurance companies from charging more to people with serious health problems.  NASW is currently analyzing the bill and will release a summary focusing on NASW concerns.   A press release and summary of the bill can be found at: Finance summary. The entire bill can be found at: Finance bill. NASW is working with coalition partners now on developing a response to the bill. When complete, our comments will be posted on our website at: NASW’s health reform page.

Senator Harkin is Chairman of Senate HELP Committee

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) took over as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee after the death of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA).  Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who was serving as the Acting Chairman of the HELP Committee, chose to remain as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.  Senator Harkin has a proven record of support for health related issues as long time Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Services.  He will remain as Chairman of that subcommittee.

HHS Releases New State by State Analysis Regarding the Uninsured

On September 16, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new state by state analysis of last week’s U.S. Census numbers regarding the uninsured.   Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, “Our health care system has reached a breaking point. The status quo is unsustainable, and continuing to delay reform is not an option.”  Some of the conclusions of the report include the following:

  • Nationwide, the number of uninsured has increased from 39.8 million in 2001 to 46.3 million in 2008.
  • Across the nation, more and more working Americans are uninsured, left without protection from health care costs.
  • In nearly every state, private coverage is eroding with the percentage of people covered by employer-based coverage decreasing.
  • Even among high-income households, the ranks of the uninsured are rapidly growing

To learn more and view state by state data, please go to:  http://www.healthreform.gov/healthcarestatus.html.

NASW Cosponsors Senate Health Disparities Briefing

On September 22, NASW, in conjunction with the National Working Group on Health Disparities and Health Reform, is cosponsoring a senate briefing, entitled, “The Cost-Savings of Reducing Health Disparities in Health Reform.”  The focus of this briefing will be to highlight the costs associated with health disparities in our country, as well as the cost-savings we would realize from reducing these critical disparities. Within that context, the briefing will include discussions such as why data collection is critical, and issues regarding workforce development, language access, health coverage, quality, prevention, and economic costs and savings.

Comparison of Health Care Reform Proposals

We have posted on our Health Care Reform Web page a document compiled by Alston and Bird, LLP that compares the three health care reform proposals in Congress.

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