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PSN Leaders in D.C. Highlight State Voices on Health Care Reform Debate

InsidePSN: PSN Leaders in D.C. Highlight State Voices on Health Care Reform Debate

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PERMALINK: http://www.progressivestates.org/node/23224

Valuing-Families

PSN Leaders in D.C. Highlight State Voices on Health Care Reform Debate

Last Wednesday, Progressive States Network brought state legislative and advocate leaders to Washington, D.C. to meet with the White House and Capitol Hill leaders to promote comprehensive national health care reform.   PSN's delegation brought with them a letter, signed by over 700 state legislators from 48 states, which demanded federal health care reform that includes the choice of a public health insurance plan, strong affordability protections, and shared employer responsibility for health care costs.  The letter itself was a product of PSN work over the last two months with legislative and organizational allies to mobilize state legislators to make their voices heard in Washington, D.C., as well as years of work highlighting the state reform efforts that should serve as models for federal reform.

To add names to health care letter, legislators should sign here, while constituents should use this link to request your legislator sign on.  See these campaign resources as well that highlight critical state reforms and organizations for the health care debate.

PSN brought to D.C. leading health care legislators and advocates with decades of experience working for quality affordable health care to their states.  With state budgets crumbling under the economic burden of a broken health care system, their message was that federal leaders needed to learn from the best of what states had already enacted while establishing a strong federal health care plan, including the choice of a national public plan, that would deliver quality health care for all Americans.   After meeting with D.C. officials, Progressive States Network held its annual State Progressive Leaders Gala, honoring the state leaders who have been promoting groundbreaking health reforms in the states for so many years.

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PSN Leaders on Capitol Hill and at the White House

Early in the day, the PSN delegation delivered the letter to Congress in a private meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.  This was followed by a Capitol Hill press conference hosted by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, third ranking Democrat on the Senate Healthcare, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee.

At the Capitol Hill event, State Sen. Jack Hatch (IA) delivered the letter to Sen. Harkin and to Congressman Steve Kagen of Wisconsin who accepted the letter on behalf of the House of Representatives.  PSN speakers, including Speaker Chris Donovan (CT), Sen. Karen Keiser (WA), and Sen. Nan Orrock (GA) then outlined how the work they have done to build public insurance options, expand Medicaid and SCHIP, and create cost controls on the state level can serve as models for federal reform.  Speaker Donovan highlighted the Connecticut legislature's recent enactment of an "Obama-ready" public health insurance plan option, which would allow small businesses the option to join the state employee health plan, as a model for federal reform and noted that, after countless meetings with constituents, it was clear that "Americans want the choice of a public option."

As Senator Tom Harkin told the group:

Thank you for your tremendous leadership. Over 700 have signed this letter...53 legislators from my home state of Iowa.  Thank you for outspoken support for a public plan.  This is very meaningful what you are doing here and at the White House, because I can assure you that there are powerful forces at work to keep us from having a public plan. 

Sen. Harkin praised PSN's work in building grassroots support for national reform and pledged to implement a national public insurance option that would relieve state economies and bring quality affordable care to all Americans. 

White House Welcomes State Legislators and Highlights PSN Letter: At an afternoon meeting at the White House, PSN legislative leaders delivered the letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and White House Director of Health Care Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle and offered their active collaboration moving forward to craft a national solution to the nation's health care crisis. PSN legislator Iowa Senator Jack Hatch was named Chairman of the newly announced White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Care Reform.  Legislators discussed a range of activities, including town meetings, to engage the public in the national debate on health care reform.  

At a press conference during the meeting, Secretary Sebelius and Nancy-Ann DeParle, both highlighted the importance of state legislative voices in the current national debate.  Sen. Hatch pledged active collaboration from PSN's growing national coalition of legislators to implement the reform priorities outlined in PSN's letter and supported by the Obama Adminstration, while Washington Senator Karen Keiser, a PSN board member, highlighted the importance of the federal government stepping up to enact meaningful reform

While legislators were meeting with the Obama Administration, Families USA hosted a reception for state advocates who received PSN’s Progressive States Leader Award.  During the reception, Families USA gave a detailed update on the various health care reform bills that are being worked on by House and Senate committees.  Advocates shared lessons learned from their state campaigns and discussed their priorities and concerns about the emerging details about congressional legislation.

View video coverage of Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, speaking at the Progressive States Network press conference on Capitol Hill by clicking on the video still below:



View video coverage of Georgia State Senator Nan Orrock, speaking at the Progressive States Network press conference on Capitol Hill by clicking on the video still below:

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State Progressive Leaders Gala - Honoring Health Care Reform in 2009

That night, the Progressive States Network played host to friends, allies and leaders from all over the country to celebrate the many victories achieved by the organization in the most recent legislative session and since its founding in 2005, and to build momentum for new victories in the coming year.

With a focus this year on health care reform, legislators, advocates, grassroots organizers, and members of the progressive media gathered at the Stuart R. Mott House in Washington D.C. on June 17th 2009 to honor and celebrate the pioneering state legislators and advocates whose bold efforts continue to bring our nation closer to health care affordability, access and choice — achievements that resonate in this year’s national debate for health care reform.

Change Starts in the States:   In his opening remarks, PSN Executive Director Nathan Newman stressed the core organizational belief that progressive change begins in the states. He welcomed guests and praised the efforts of the legislators, advocates and staff that worked tirelessly to prepare for Federal Health Care Reform Day and the exciting events that had transpired at the White House earlier in the day — galvanizing the continued need for a national narrative of progressive change starting in the states and forging a national network for progressives.

Created in the “dark ages” of 2005, PSN has systematically gathered its strength, tackled core progressive issues and driven positive change state-by-state, when hope at the federal level was seen as a distant impossibility. Happily, in the last year, thanks to the hard work and dedication of countless organizations, legislators and advocates, PSN has begun to realize the fruits of its efforts to create and sustain a vast network of progressive leaders, allies and advocates committed to promoting social change across the states.

PSN's Leadership on Health Care:  Nick Rathod from the White House Intergovernmental Affairs department, who organized the meeting with Sec. Sebelius and Nancy-Ann DeParle earlier in the day, praised PSN's work and emphasized the critical role of state legislators and advocates in bringing change to our nation. 

As Mr. Rathod told the group:

The work that the Progressive States Network has done is a great example of how individuals are working together across the states, across issues, across the divide between legislators and advocates to make sure that this time, we achieve meaningful health reform.

Georgia Senator Nan Orrock, a PSN board member, highlighted the collaborative effort in producing and distributing the legislator letter around the country, in particular citing PSN's collaboration with the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Community Catalyst, Families USA, Health Care for America NOW!, Herndon Alliance, National Women's Law Center, Northeast Action, SEIU, the Universal Health Care Action Network, and WiLL, as well as thanking the foundations and other funders who have made PSN's work possible.

Progressive Leader Awards: With introductions by Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the evening honored four exemplary legislators that stood out amongst their peers as true leaders in the health care reform battle:  Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan, Connecticut House of Representatives; Senator Jon Erpenbach, Wisconsin Senate; Senator Karen Keiser, Washington Senate; and Representative Sharon Treat, Maine House of Representatives. These state legislators advanced priorities for reform in their states that are now being debated here in DC, and have brought their unique and powerful voices to our national debate. 

PSN was also thrilled to recognize seven advocates that have worked tirelessly to organize, shape and influence positive change in the battle for health care affordability, access, and choice: Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, AFSCME Council 4 of Connecticut, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, SEIU Connecticut State Council and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.  As Wisconsin and Connecticut legislative chambers have pioneered bills to provide affordable coverage, including examples of a public insurance plan, the advocates honored this evening have turned those states into national models for federal reform.

Video Coverage of White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Nick Rathod speaks to the crowd at PSN's 2009 State Progressive Leaders Gala in Washington, D.C. (Click picture to watch.)


Video Coverage of PSN Executive Director Nathan Newman addresses the crowd at PSN's 2009 State Progressive Leaders Gala in Washington, D.C. (Click picture to watch.)

 

For more videos of the press conference click here, for more videos of the Gala, click here.  The channels will be updated soon with full coverage of both events.

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Media from the D.C. Health Care Events

National Press:

Dallas Morning News:State legislators lobby for public health care insurance by year's end”

- http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/DN-stateshealth_18bus.State.Edition1.b494de.html

Seattle Times: “Regional lawmakers, doctors join campaign supporting a public health plan”

- http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2009352031_healthreform18m.html

Roll Call: “Senate GOP Still Saying ”˜No’.”

- http://www.rollcall.com/issues/54_148/news/35986-1.html

CQ HealthBeat: “Sebelius Says Obama Wants Health Overhaul Cost 'Within the Bounds of Reason”

- http://progressivestates.org/node/23212

The New York Times: “The Early Word: Policy in Overdrive”
- http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/the-early-word-policy-in-overdrive/#more-27011

ABC News: “The Note: Windmills & Bulldozers”

- http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/06/obama-seeks-center-with-financial-reform-.html

Regional Press:

The Arizona Guardian: “Sinema to discuss health care with top U.S. officials at White House “

- http://www.arizonaguardian.com/az/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=866:sinema-to-discuss-health-care-with-top-us-officials-at-white-house-&catid=63:press-releases&Itemid=104

Houston Style Magazine: "Representative Garnet F. Coleman Urges White House and Congress"

- http://www.stylemagazine.com/wordpress/2009/06/representative-garnet-f-coleman-urges-white-house-and-congress/

The Olympian: “Lawmaker to tell of state success in White House health-care meeting”

- http://www.theolympian.com/politicsblog/story/882484.html

Racine News: “Wisconsin Health Care Reform Advocates Honoered in Nation’s Capitol for Role in Building Grassroots Momentum for National Health Care Reform”

- http://racinenews.org/?p=30472

Radio Iowa: “Iowa legislator to head White House working group on health care”

- http://www.radioiowa.com/gestalt/go.cfm?objectid=D6145D4A-5056-B82A-377E542C14929B48

Radio Iowa: "State senator pressing for 'competitive public product'"

- http://www.radioiowa.com/gestalt/go.cfm?objectid=FA318334-5056-B82A-370D314D7FA13BA4

Seattle Post Globe: “Health care reform and Nickels crosses a picket line”

- http://www.seattlepostglobe.org/2009/06/15/publicola-health-care-reform-and-nickels-crosses-a-picket-line

Salem News: “Sebelius, DeParle announce establishment of State Legislators for Health Care Reform”

- http://www.salem-news.com/articles/june172009/hlth_reform_6-17-09.php

WisPolitics.com: “Health Care Advocates Decend on DC”

- http://blogs.wispolitics.com/dcwrap/2009/06/health-care-advocates-descend-on-dc.html

Blogs:

AFL-CIO Blog: “700 State Legislators Back Public Health Insurance Option”

- http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/06/17/700-state-legislators-back-public-health-insurance-option/

Arizona Politicker.com: "Arizona Legislators Urge Obama Administration to Pass Health Care Reform Including Public Option"

- http://politicker.com/arizona/88999/arizona-legislators-urge-obama-admin...

AZNetroots: “Arizona Legislators Urge Obama Administration to Pass Health Care Reform Including Public Option”

- http://www.aznetroots.com/diary/760/arizona-legislators-urge-obama-administration-to-pass-health-care-reform-including-public-option

Connecticut News Junkie: State Pushes For Federal Health Care Debate”

- http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/health_care/state_pushes_for_federal_healt.php

Hartford Courant: "State Health Care Proposal Praised As National Model"

- http://www.courant.com/community/hc-community-articleresults,0,5942637,results.formprofile?Query=14776HC

Heatland Heartbeat: "Harkin at Progressive States Network Press Conference"

- http://heartlandheartbeat.blogspot.com/2009/06/harkin-at-progressive-sta...

Labor Union Blog: “700 State Legislators Back Public Health Insurance Option”

- http://www.4ibew.com/2009/06/17/700-state-legislators-back-public-health-insurance-option/

People, Profit, Power: "Update on National Health Care Reform Legislation"

- http://ppphi.blogspot.com/2009/06/update-on-national-health-care-reform....

People's Weekly World: "Minnesota lawmakers ask Congress to offer public health option"

- http://www.pww.org/article/articleview/16075/

SEIU Blog: "State Legislators to the Hill: We Need Health Care Reform"

- http://www.seiu.org/2009/06/if-you-want-to-know.php

St. Louis Beacon: "Pro-health care legislators tell Obama 'we've got your back' on public option"

- http://www.stlbeacon.org/beacon_backroom/pro-health_care_legislators_tell_obama_we_ve_got_your_back_on_public_option

SquareState.net: "Colorado Legislators to Federal Lawmakers: We Need Health Care Reform Now"

- http://www.squarestate.net/diary/8186/colorado-legislators-to-federal-lawmakers-we-need-health-care-reform-now

Turn Maine Blue: “Rep. Sharon Treat leads delegation to D.C. on health care reform”

- http://turnmaineblue.com/diary/2937/rep-sharon-treat-leads-delegation-to-dc-on-health-care-reform

Self-Generated Media:

Talking Points Memo: “Urging Public Option, 700 Legislators Send Delegation to White House and Capitol Hill”

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/06/17/urging_public_option_700_legislators_send_delegati/

PSN's press release:

- http://progressivestates.org/node/23201

PSN's Vimeo Channel of video clips from pres conference:

- http://vimeo.com/channels/48677

Turing Politics Upside Down: “I'm in DC Today to Discuss Health Care Reform”

- http://kyrstensinema.blogspot.com/2009/06/i-will-be-in-washington-d.html

Audio recordings:

US Senate Archives: Recording of opening remarks

- http://demradio.senate.gov/actualities/harkin/harkin090617_1.mp3

Talk Radio News Service: “Senator: Progressive States Network Will Help Solve Healthcare Problem”

- http://talkradionews.com/2009/06/progressive-states-network-will-help-solve-healthcare-problem/

Talk Radio News Service: “Progressive States Network Urges Inexpensive Healthcare”

- http://talkradionews.com/2009/06/progressive-states-network-urges-inexpensive-healthcare/

Talk Radio News Service: “Progressive States Network Wants Choice In Healthcare”

- http://talkradionews.com/2009/06/progressive-states-network-wants-choice-in-healthcare/

Talk Radio News Service: “Progressive States Network Urges Federal Healthcare Reform”

- http://talkradionews.com/2009/06/progressive-states-network-urges-federal-healthcare-reform/















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