August 2009 Domestic Monthly Action
Advocate for Expanding and Strengthening Public Health Programs to Meet the Needs of Low-Income Americans
Schedule Lobby Meetings and Attend Public Events to Show Support for Bold Action on Health Reform
NOTE: See our tips on how to ask a question at a Town Hall meeting or a candidate forum. **** These are the first of two different sets of talking points for your group to use if you are attending these events as a group. Divide up the questions so that at each event, some of you can focus on strengthening Medicaid and children’s health in health reform and others can focus on supporting upcoming single-payer amendments to reform bills and a national health program as the long-term vision for U.S. health care (see below). In either case, it is critical to voice your strong support for meaningful health reform that provides for quality, affordable Health Care for All by 2010 . If you do have a scheduled time to meet with a senator or representative, please be sure to contact the RESULTS office at (202) 783-7100 for the latest information and targeted requests.
Medicaid is a program that pays for medical assistance for individuals and families with low incomes and resources. Medicaid is larger than any single private health insurer, providing health coverage for 60 million low-income people, half of them children. Adults without children are prohibited by federal law from enrolling in Medicaid, even if they are extremely low-income. By expanding Medicaid to cover everyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty line (in 2009, $24,352 for a family of three), we could reduce the number of uninsured persons by at least one-third. The House health reform bill, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200) includes an expansion of Medicaid eligibility to everyone under 133 percent of the federal poverty line. In addition, in face-to-face lobby meetings we will also push for full federal funding of Medicaid expansions and automatic increases in funding during economic downturns as a measure to ensure that this vital safety net will not suffer cuts when it is most needed. This important concern about federal financing for Medicaid expansions is best expressed in private face-to-face lobby meetings with representatives, as it may contribute to efforts by those opposed to health reform to highlight criticisms of reform legislation rather than push to strengthen the needed improvements included in the bills.
RESULTS is also working to protect and expand children’s health coverage, building on new legislation to renew and improve the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP helps states provide health insurance to children (and some parents) with incomes too low to afford private coverage and too high to qualify for Medicaid. Today, CHIP covers more than 7 million children. More than two-thirds of uninsured children are eligible for coverage under Medicaid or CHIP, but face barriers to getting enrolled. H.R.3200 allows CHIP to expire as scheduled on September 30, 2013. At that time, all children up to 133 percent of poverty would transition to Medicaid coverage and all others would be transitioned to plans within the Health Insurance Exchange. The Energy and Commerce Committee accepted Rep. Diana DeGette’s amendment to ensure that no child will be removed from CHIP coverage in 2013 until the HHS Secretary certifies that the new Health Insurance Exchange provides comparable or superior coverage. In addition, the Education and Labor Committee approved an amendment to H.R.3200 from Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) requiring that all children who receive coverage through the Exchange have access to Early Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT). EPSDT are the benefits children on Medicaid receive and are specifically designed to meet the health needs of children. During lobby meetings, push Congress to provide EPSDT benefits to all children, simplify the Medicaid and CHIP enrollment processes, and include cost-sharing protections for low-income families in Exchange plans to ensure children’s health coverage is affordable for all families.
We will discuss our Health Care for All by 2010 campaign on the August National Conference Call — Saturday, August 8, at 12:30 pm ET. To participate, call (888) 409-6709 with your group by 12:28 pm ET. The following is a second set of talking points to advocate for a National Health Program.
Push for a National Health Program at Public Events in August
Use these talking points to compose your laser talk for town hall meetings or other public appearances by senators and/or a sit-down meeting:
NOTE: See our tips on how to ask a question at a Town Hall meeting or a candidate forum. If you do have a scheduled time to meet with a senator or representative, please be sure to contact the RESULTS office at (202) 783-7100 for the latest information and targeted requests.
A National Health Program, or “single-payer” model, is a system in which a single public agency organizes health financing while delivery of care remains largely private, such as the Medicare program. In other words, patients would go to the doctor just as they do today, only a government entity and not private insurance would pay the bill.
Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, long-term care, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care. Physicians would be paid for services provided or would receive a salary from their hospital or nonprofit HMO/group practice.
Our actions this month to push for support of the single-payer model will pave the way for RESULTS’ long-term goal of health reform.
Single Payer Legislation Currently in Congress
The U.S. National Health Insurance Act (H.R.676) was introduced by Rep. Conyers (D-MI-14). This bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system, by building upon the existing Medicare program. The government will finance coverage, while private doctors, hospitals and other health professionals will deliver care. The system is paid for through savings generated by the system, a 7 percent payroll tax shared evenly with employers and employees, a stock transfer tax, expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, and modest tax increases on the richest 5 percent of Americans.
In addition, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA-7) have introduced the American Health Security Act of 2009 (S.703/ H.R.1200). While federally funded, this program would be administered by the states. In addition, the bill fully funds community health centers, improving access for 60 million Americans living in rural areas, and the National Health Service Corps is given resources to train 24,000 additional primary care physicians and dentists.
Breaking news: As the House began their August recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8) announced that the full House of Representatives will vote on a single-payer amendment when debating health reform legislation in September. Also, the House Education and Labor Committee on July 17 passed an amendment by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10) to give states the option to experiment with single payer health care for all their citizens. A similar amendment from Sen. Sanders was rejected by the Senate HELP Committee last month, but he hopes to reintroduce the amendment on the Senate floor. In face-to-face lobby visits, urge members of Congress to commit to voting yes on single-payer amendments on the House and Senate floors this fall. If you have not yet asked your members of Congress to cosponsor H.R.676/S.703, please do so now.