Urge Senate "Aye" Vote on Health Care Reform

Dec 15, 2009

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Action Requested

Please contact your Senator today and urge them to support passage of health care reform legislation. Tell them passage of this legislation (H.R. 3590) is vital to rebuilding the nation’s health and economic security and you urge an “aye” vote on the floor.

NASW members that are constituents of the following Senators are especially encouraged to let your representative know your views. Key swing votes are: Collins R-ME; Landrieu D-LA; Lieberman I-CT; Nelson D-NE; Snowe R-ME; Lincoln D-AR; Bayh D-IN; and Webb D-VA.


Social workers are long-time advocates for major health care reform. For decades they have carried the vision of former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, a pioneer in the social work profession, who included universal health care on the 12-item agenda she brought to President Franklin Roosevelt. This was the only item on her agenda that did not pass into law, and social workers have actively sought health care reform since that time.

NASW believes the health reform legislation, H.R. 3590, now pending before the Senate will provide more affordable, quality coverage for millions more Americans. It calls for shared responsibility by individuals, employers and government and would also expand health insurance coverage choices, including retaining one’s current coverage, expanding private plan options within the states, and offering a Medicare buy-in option for residents aged 55-64. NASW gave its support to the Senate bill when floor debate began two weeks ago, and since then important changes have been made in the bill. You may view our Senate letter here on the NASW Web site.

Although details of the latest Senate Democratic changes on health care reform are not yet public, the outlines are known and they please many supporters of reform. The new deal would substitute the original rather weak “public option” in favor of a large expansion of Medicare coverage. An important advantage of the new compromise is that it would limit the high administrative costs of for-profit insurers, and offer Medicare coverage for those aged 55-64. Senate leaders have kept the details under wraps to preserve their freedom to rewrite their plan if initial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates of its cost prove unsatisfactory.

Another aspect of the latest proposal would create a new system of private national health insurance plans administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that currently manages health care benefits for federal employees. In the House, OPM is overseen by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Edolphus Towns D-NY, a life-long professional social worker and supporter of NASW. Rep. Towns would therefore have major influence over the new national plans developed by OPM.

Last, an item of special interest to the social work profession is the Senate bill’s inclusion of important provisions from the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act, (SWRA). The Senate and House bills contain similar provisions that would authorize several million dollars for social work education and training grants in mental and behavioral health.  Furthermore, some of these grants are targeted to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or Minority Serving Institutions (MSI).  NASW is very pleased social worker advocacy has been so successful on this important issue.

For more information on health care reform, visit our Web page