HCAN! New York

Health Care Organizations Thank Schumer for Proposing Public Health Insurance Option in Senate Finance Committee

Posted on October 2nd, 2009 by Charlie Albanetti

Support Sets Up Senate Floor Debate That Will Lead to Public Option in Final Bill

Read about the event in Albany here.

Albany, NY — Health care leaders in New York State thanked the Senator for offering an amendment to the health care legislation being worked out by the Senate Finance Committee this week that would ensure that private health insurance companies are held accountable by inclusion of a strong public health insurance option in the bill.

Events to thank the Senator were held in 4 different locations in New York State (Capital District, New York City, Buffalo, Binghamton). The Schumer public option proposal was defeated in committee, but attracted 10 of the 13 Democrats on the Finance Committee, making passage of the proposal on the floor a strong possibility. All Republicans on the committee voted against the amendment.

“A public health insurance option is critical to providing health care consumers with a real alternative to the abuses of the private insurance industry, including denials of coverage, high rates, and poor service,” said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, which coordinates HCAN in New York State. “We’re gratified that Senator Schumer stood with health care consumers this week against industry opposition. We look forward to a strong debate on the Senate floor and to eventual passage of legislation to create a public health insurance option that checks the industry.”

“Senator Schumer has always been a true champion for the cause and ideals of working men and women. His crucial role in the fight for universal health care, in particular his offering an amendment for a public option, is just the latest example of his commitment to the needs, concerns and well-being of all Americans. We are proud of the leading role Senator Schumer continues to play in this most important and ground breaking issue,” said Denis Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO.

“We applaud Senator Schumer for his tireless efforts in championing real health care reform measures in the Senate Finance Committee,” said Raglan George, Jr., Executive Director of DC 1707 and an AFSCME International Vice-President. “While the public option did not make it into the final Senate bill, we are confident that it will make it into the final health care reform legislation.” George continued: “I think we all recognize the tremendous need for real health care reform, and any real reform means a public option to keep competition healthy.”

Citizen Action Policy Director Bob Cohen commended the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee who stood strong for the public health insurance option. “No public health insurance option would mean virtually no meaningful choices for consumers. We hope these senators not only will continue to push for a public option, but also will vote in favor of responsible ways to pay for health carereform, including raising revenue from the very wealthiest Americans who greatly benefited from the Bush tax cuts of the past eight years,” said Cohen.

“New York City health reform activists are proud of Senator Schumer for his outstanding leadership. He was able to achieve near consensus among Democrats for the most critical part of reform – the public option – in the best interest of patients and physicians. We’ve got the Senator’s back because he’s got ours,” said Nina Agrawal MD, the founder of NYCforChange, a grassroots group committed to building upon the Obama community network to continue to bring change.

At their event, New York City HCAN members delivered a letter of support and a bouquet of flowers to the Senator’s midtown office that was signed by groups such as Organizing for America, MoveOn.org, NycforChange, National Physicians Alliance, Queens County for Change and Young Invincibles.

“Senator Schumer has really worked confront the problems of our health system and address irresponsible scare tactics. By diligently advocating for solutions and the public option he is standing by the working families of this country,” said Angelo Vellake, President of the Western New York Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO).

Terri Schelter, RN and the Legislative/Political Director for CWA Local 1168, Nurses United said: “Senator Schumer clearly understands the importance of a strong public option to create competition in the insurance market and lower the costs for hard working Americans. CWA thanks him for listening to the people and not caving to the special interest groups that put profits over patients. This is our chance to get health care reform right.”

“Some have characterized the close vote on Senator Schumer’s public option amendment as a defeat for the vast majority of Americans who support quality, affordable health care for all. They are wrong. The fight for comprehensive health care reform that includes a public option is just beginning. And with the leadership of Senator Schumer and others, we are confident that the cause will not only endure but that this time, it will prevail,” said Aaron Smith, the co-founder of Young Invincibles, an organization of young people that supports health care reform.

Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is the nation’s largest health care campaign. HCAN fights for a guarantee of quality, affordable health care for all with the choice of a strong national public health insurance option in 2009.

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