With two landmark health care reform bills now on her desk, Gov. M. Jodi Rell has to decide whose side she is on -- small businesses and families struggling under the weight of high health care costs, or the state's health insurance industry, which has a big stake in preserving the costly status quo. Will she allow precedent-setting health care reforms to proceed, or will she, for the second year in a row, be the "Governor of No"?
Many of the key priorities for comprehensive reform being debated by
Congress and the Obama Administration have already been discussed in
states and, in many cases, are being implemented in states. For the
past decade, state legislators have navigated many of the political and
policy challenges that are now confronting federal policymakers.
A state senator who was in the nation's capital this week to lobby
for health care reform says it's time for a "competitive public
product" to give Americans a more affordable alternative to private
Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, was among a small
group of state legislators who met with White House officials on
WASHINGTON — State legislators urged Congress and the White House
on Wednesday to enact comprehensive health care legislation that
includes a public health insurance component by year's end.
Members of the Progressive States Network, a state government
coalition, met with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to lobby for a public insurance
option. They said that would answer Americans' call to provide health
care coverage for all.
Would you buy a health-insurance policy sold by the U.S. government?
What if it offered good coverage, affordable rates and were available anywhere in the country?
Pushing back against Republican attacks on President Obama's vision
of a public-health plan, a nationwide coalition of state lawmakers,
small-business owners, physicians, community groups and others
Wednesday launched a public-relations campaign aimed at building
support for an option they believe is essential for meaningful health
As battle lines are drawn on Capitol Hill over the coming battle over
health care reform, Progressive States Network is putting state
legislators in the middle of the national debate. On Wednesday, PSN led
a delegation representing over 700 state legislators to Washington D.C.
to deliver a letter to the Obama Administration and Congress urging
them to pass comprehensive health care reform with a public insurance
option by the end of the year. The letter, which was signed by a
bipartisan group of over 700 legislators from 48 states, called for any
federal reform bill to include a public health insurance option, strong
affordability protections, and shared employer responsibility for
health care costs.
Wednesday’s lobbying push starts at the top: Former Senate Majority
Leaders Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and Howard Baker announce recommendations
at a noon ET press conference in Washington, as organized by the
Bipartisan Policy Center.
And it moves down to the state level, with the Progressive States
Network fanning out on the Hill and to the White House to make the
Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, has his own event, releasing
a letter from more than 600 state legislators urging Congress and the
administration to enact health care reform by the end of the year. The
letter calls for any reform to include a public health option,
something Mr. Harkin firmly backs himself.
Both Sebelius and Nancy-Ann DeParle, White House director of health
care reform, were set to meet Wednesday afternoon with a group of state
legislators called the Progressive States Network who support a public
option as part of any overhaul plan. The lawmakers said at a press
conference that they will bring along a letter signed by 700
legislators calling for a public health insurance plan as part of
comprehensive health reform.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As battle lines are drawn on Capitol Hill in
the coming battle over health care reform, state legislators are taking
on a central role in the debate. Today, at a Capitol Hill press
conference hosted by Sen. Tom Harkin and a White House meeting with
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Director
of the White House Office of Health Care Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle, a
delegation of state legislators organized by the national group
Progressive States Network delivered a letter urging comprehensive
health care reform within the year. The letter, which was signed by 700
legislators from 47 states, called for any federal reform bill to
include a public health insurance option, strong affordability
protections, and shared employer responsibility for health care costs.