15 Senate Sponsors of the Healthy Americans Act Outline a "Roadmap" for Building Bipartisan Consensus on Health Reform
In a letter to President-Elect Barack Obama, the 15 Senate sponsors of the Healthy Americans Act outlined the seven principles they agree should serve as the goal of any reform of the nation's health care system.
"As former colleagues in the United States Senate, we would like to congratulate you on your election as the 44th President of the United States and offer our commitment to working with you in a bipartisan fashion to reform our health care system," wrote the group of seven Democrats, seven Republicans and one Independent. "Over the last two years, we have come together as Democrats and Republicans because we believe that for health reform to succeed it must be bipartisan we believe [these] principles outline the best way to reform the nation's health care system and create the best roadmap' to build bipartisan consensus on reform."
The principles include:
· Ensuring that all Americans have health care coverage;
· Making health care coverage both affordable and portable;
* Implementing strong private insurance market reforms;
* Modernizing federal tax rules for health coverage;
* Promoting improved disease prevention and wellness activities, as well as better management of chronic illnesses;
* Making health care prices and choices more transparent so that consumers and providers can make the best choices for their health and health care dollars; and
* Improving the quality and value of health care services.
The letter was signed by: U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
Introduced by Wyden and Bennett, the Healthy Americans Act is the first significant piece of bipartisan health reform legislation in the Senate since the days of Harry Truman. In addition to guaranteeing that every American can afford quality, private health insurance, Wyden-Bennett would: give Americans choice in where they get their health care; modernize the employer-employee relationship to make health care portable from job to job (and continue if you lose your job); promote personal responsibility and preventative medicine; and reform the insurance market so that insurers are forced to compete on price, benefits and quality. Recently the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the Healthy Americans Act could accomplish all of this while also generating budget surpluses after the first two years of implementation. (Learn more at: http://wyden.senate.gov/haa and http://bennett.senate.gov )
The text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Barack Obama
Washington, DC 20270
November 20, 2008
Dear President-Elect Obama:
As former colleagues in the United States Senate, we would like to congratulate you on your election as the 44th President of the United States and offer our commitment to working with you in a bipartisan fashion to reform our health care system.
As the next President, you will face many challenges, with restoring our nation's struggling economy heading the list. With most Americans getting their health care through their employers, the growing numbers of layoffs also mean that more and more of our citizens are not only losing their jobs, they are losing their health care.
As Members who have offered our support for bipartisan healthcare proposals, we respectfully suggest that our current economic challenges call for speedy reform of our health care system. There is no doubt that health care costs are a leading economic concern for families; in fact, medical bills account for nearly half of all bankruptcy filings. Americans' economic insecurities will persist and worsen unless the Congress and the White House begin to work together early next year to tackle the challenges of health care costs and coverage. An efficient and more equitable health care system will unleash economic growth and reduce the financial drain our current health care system is having on American families' budgets and the economy as a whole.
In the coming months, you will be receiving suggestions and proposals for health care reform from Congressional leaders and stakeholders. We see this as a sign that after decades of debate, Congress is finally ready to tackle what is unquestionably one of the most important and challenging issues facing our nation.
Over the last two years, we have come together as Democrats and Republicans to cosponsor the Healthy Americans Act because we believe that for health reform to succeed it must be bipartisan. We also believe that in these tough economic times with soaring budget deficits, it is critical to fix our broken health care system without breaking the bank. We believe Congress must explore financing mechanisms that would maximize the use of existing health care dollars and ideally produce savings in the future. To that end, it will be critical to work with the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation to find ways to meet health care reform goals while also maintaining fiscal responsibility.
While bipartisan agreement on details is yet to be achieved, we believe the following principles outline the best way to reform the nation's health care system and create the best "roadmap" to build bipartisan consensus on reform. We would like to work with you to enact legislation that accomplishes these goals:
* Ensure that all Americans have health care coverage;
* Make sure health care coverage is affordable and portable;
* Implement strong private insurance market reforms;
* Modernize federal tax rules for health coverage;
* Promote improved disease prevention and wellness activities, as well as better management of chronic illnesses;
* Make health care prices and choices more transparent so that consumers and providers can make the best choices for their health and health care dollars; and
* Improve the quality and value of health care services.
We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and your advisors to discuss how we can work together to advance these principles and enact meaningful health care reform legislation in the 111th Congress.
Thank you for your time and consideration and we look forward to fruitful discussions in the future.