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Obama, Pelosi, Harkin to Meet with State Legislator Delegation Representing 1000+ Legislators for Real Health Reform

10/14/2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CONTACT: Nathan Newman, nnewman@progressivestates.org (212) 680-3114/ (917) 854-0279

Obama, Pelosi, Harkin to Meet with State Legislator Delegation
Representing 1000+ Legislators for Real Health Reform

Delegation represents 1084 legislators from across the country supporting real health care reform, including a robust public option

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, state legislators representing over 1000 colleagues will meet with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, bringing a message of state support for real health care reform, including the public option. The delegation will meet with President Obama and other White House officials in the West Wing starting at 12:30pm, with Senator Harkin at 11:15am and with Speaker Pelosi at 3:30pm. The over two dozen state legislators in the delegation are also meeting with other Senators and Congressional representatives over two days.

The meetings follow the announcement last week that Progressive States Network, a group representing state legislators across the country, that 1,084 state legislators from all 50 states have signed letters to President Obama and Congress asking for real health reform, including a public health insurance option, strong affordability protections, and shared responsibility among individuals, employers and government for health care costs.

“President Obama and Congressional leaders recognize that state legislators have been on the front lines of health care reform for decades,” said Texas Representative Garnet Coleman, co-chair of Progressive States Network. “Most proposed elements of federal reform are based on ideas already debated and in many cases enacted in the states. So state legislators know what is needed to make reform work.”

In addition to these letters showing broad-based state legislator support for reform, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in August voted to support federal health care reform, including a public health insurance option. The vote at the annual NCS conference was overwhelming, with representatives of 38 states supporting the resolution. As Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch (D, Des Moines), who introduced the amendment, said at the time, “We sent a very clear message to people dragging their feet in Washington: the time to act on health reform is now. We need a public health insurance option to make sure working families and small businesses are free to choose the best health care available at a price they can afford.”

The state leaders coming to D.C. are delivering a few key messages to Capitol Hill and the White House during their meetings, including:

”¢ Any federal law should create a “floor, not a ceiling” for reform, where states will retain the authority to provide stronger consumer protections, coverage expansions, and industry and medical standards than what it is enacted by Congress

Ӣ Ensure reform is sustainable during all economic conditions and provide states with the necessary financial resources to provide health care for all during economic downturns.

Ӣ Guarantee affordability of coverage for all families, including limiting costs to an affordable percentage of income for all families and providing a public insurance option to provide lower-cost alternatives.

The list of 1084 legislators supporting reform reflects 978 legislators signing a letter to Congress and President Obama sponsored by Progressive States Network itself, along with two separate letters from legislators in the states of Connecticut (85 additional names) and New Mexico (21 additional names) reflecting advocacy of similar reforms.

A full copy of the PSN letter with all signers, along with links to the New Mexico and Connecticut letters, can be obtained at http://www.progressivestates.org/statefedhealth.

The text of the PSN letter was developed in consultation with national health care reform advocates, including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Community Catalyst, Families USA, Herndon Alliance, National Women's Law Center, Northeast Action, SEIU, and Universal Health Care Action Network.

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Progressive States Network is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of progressive state legislators around the country and to the passage of state legislation that delivers on issues the issues that matter to working families: strong wage standards and workplace freedom, balancing work and family responsibilities, health care for all, smart growth and clean energy, tax and budget reform, clean and fair elections, and technology investments to bridge the digital divide.