Health Care Bill Must Drop Abortion Language, Include Public Option
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Please send a message to your senators and House member asking them to assure that restrictive abortion language in health care reform legislation be withdrawn, that a strong public plan is included, that age discrimination is removed, that better cost control measures are included and insurance is made truly more affordable for everyone.
Abortion Provision Must be Removed – Congress is negotiating a final health care reform bill behind closed doors, since the Democratic leadership decided to bypass a formal conference committee where they would have to contend with Republicans intent on defeating the legislation. An agreement will be made without much opportunity for public comment on severely damaging abortion restrictions, and that’s why your messages to Congress are needed right away. Both House and Senate versions contain highly restrictive provisions that will greatly limit abortion access for millions of women and these must be removed!
Public Plan Must be Included – There is a danger that the better elements of the House bill, like a public option, will be dropped and that the more conservative Senate bill’s provisions — which do not include a public plan — will prevail. Without a strong public plan private providing competition, insurance costs will continue to rise.
Additionally, the Senate bill will allow insurers to charge older persons (perhaps as young as 40) three times as much (!) as the rate charged to younger persons, making health care costs for many middle-aged women burdensome. The Senate bill has very weak provisions to bring health care costs under control and lets employers off the hook in requiring them to provide health insurance for employees. A new tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans will mean that union families who have accepted these high end plans in lieu of increased wages will be taxed, and that’s not fair.
Costly, but Needed Reforms – Really, the Senate legislation is the profit-driven insurance industry’s dream bill, delivering more than 30 million new customers and forcing everyone to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. Many of those 30 million will need government subsidies in order to help pay for their coverage, and that means tax dollars will go to private insurance companies.
NOW believes that is poor public policy and says that an insurance mandate should also offer a public option. That said, there are many good and needed elements of health care reform; covering a large proportion of the 47 million uninsured population is absolutely essential. The costs to taxpayers to extend coverage and to achieve these modest reforms will be great. But it is a start — NOW activists must keep up pressure in the future on our elected leaders to continue to improve upon these reforms — especially now in the reconciliation process and in coming years.
Congress Must Make Changes – We agree with House progressive leaders, Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) that the following major concerns must be addressed:
- A public option – If the bill requires people to buy health insurance, there must be a public option to bring down costs by providing lower-cost competition to private insurers and choice to consumers.
- Affordability protections – The legislation must protect lower- and middle-income individuals by ensuring that subsidies make coverage affordable and that Medicaid patients have access to primary care physicians.
- Tighter market regulation – New regulations must keep premiums reasonable and end abusive practices. Insurance companies should no longer be exempt from anti-trust laws, and any premium increases must be reviewed before they take effect.
- Employer mandates – If individuals are required to buy insurance, employers should be required to provide it.
- Tax surcharges – Health care reform should be financed by tax surcharges on the wealthy, not excise taxes on health insurance plans offered to many workers and union members.
Send a Message and Call – Please send a message to your senators and House member now. You can use our pre-formatted message or write one of your own. Also, if you can take a minute to call members of your delegation and leave a message about these needed changes in the health care reform bill, that’s even better.