Tuesday, October 6

1057 Legislators Show Support for Health Care Reform

This is encouraging.

Progressive States Network, a group representing state legislators across the country, announced today that 1057 state legislators from all fifty states have signed letters to 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.

State legislative leaders, along with mayors from around the country, will be coming to Washington, D.C. next week to bring this message of state support for reform to Capitol Hill and the White House.

“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 NCSL 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.”

“Talk radio and television may generate a lot of noise,” said Nathan Newman, PSN’s executive director, “but the over 1000 legislators in all fifty states supporting affordable, quality health care for all Americans, including a public insurance option, reflects the voices of communities across our nation. These legislators are asking to fix a broken health care system and improve both individual lives and the economic competitiveness of our nation.” The list of 1057 legislators supporting reform reflects 943 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 (92 additional names) and New Mexico (25 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://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.

Speaker Bios:

Karen Keiser (D) has been serving as a state senator in Washington since 2001. She currently is chair of the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee where she has earned a reputation as a tireless advocate for improving the nation’s outdated, inefficient and fragmented health care system.

Kyrsten Sinema (D) serves as the Assistant Leader to the Democratic Caucus in the Arizona House of Representatives. Now in her third term, she is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Herb Conaway (D) has been a member of the New Jersey Assembly since 1998 and is a private practice physician specializing in internal medicine. Dr. Conaway currently chairs the Health and Senior Services Committee and is the immediate past chair of the NCSL Health Committee.

Jim Campbell (R) is a second term state representative from Maine. He is very devoted to issues relating to the elderly, as is evidenced by his participation on the board of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging which serves Cumberland and York counties.

Jack Hatch (D) serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the Iowa Senate where he is also Chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Budget Committee. In June 2009, he was selected to chair the White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform.

Nathan Newman is Executive Director of the Progressive States Network, which works to promote national reforms benefitting working families in the states working with progressive state legislators and allied community groups, unions, and advocacy organizations.

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