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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-03-10 09:31 AM
Original message
Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign
Dear Health Care Advocate,
I assume you know that Sen. Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Brown (R-Massachusetts) have introduced a bill that would remove the 2017 date.

The lame-duck session is a short one, so if this important legislation is to pass, we need to get our senators and congressional representatives to support it.

What we are doing in New Mexico:

1. We have sent out an email alert to our supporters from around the state asking them to call Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Udall.

Our message is simple: Support the Wyden/Brown bill S3948 that removes the 2017 date from the health care reform law.

2. We have also been in touch with our congressional representatives, asking them to sponsor similar legislation in the House during the lame-duck session.

3. We pushed for and were successful in getting the endorsement of the states interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee for a joint state house/senate legislative memorial (a nonbinding resolution) requesting the New Mexico congressional delegation to actively seek to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to remove the 2017 date for states to request waivers.

We have pointed out to our congressional delegation that Democrats on the committee unanimously voted for this endorsement.

Whatever you decide to do given your state situation, it must be done quickly.

What the opposition is saying:

We think that one major stumbling block to removing 2017 comes from liberals who think that removing the 2017 date will weaken the national law. These are the concerns that we have heard:

1. Removing 2017 will enable some states to get away with completely opting out of national health care reform.

2. If 2017 is removed, states will lose funding that they otherwise would have received had they set up an exchange.

3. It is important for states to set up exchanges now since in 2013 we may be faced with an administration hostile to health care reform.

Below is a list of some of the arguments that we are using to counter these concerns.

Answer to concern #1. Removing the 2017 date simply allows states to apply for waivers before 2014 (when the exchanges must be up and running). To receive a waiver, states would still have to comply with the overall goals of the law and present plans for approval that would be as comprehensive and cover as many people as would have been covered under the exchange approach.

In fact, there are four conditions that have to be met for a waiver to be approved. (Sec. 1332 (b))

No state could receive a waiver under the current administration and get away with doing nothing. In fact, allowing states to apply for waivers prior to 2014 will ensure that these conditions are met.

Answer to concern #2. The law specifically states that when a waiver is approved, the state will receive all the funding that would have been available to the state should it have created an exchange. (Sec. 1332 (a)(3))

Answer to concern #3. Forcing states to wait three years before requesting a waiver makes no sense and is a waste of time, resources, and funds. If a state has a different approach that can comprehensively cover as many people, as estimated by the CBO, and is deficit neutral, it should be allowed to do so.

If states are given the option of developing alternatives now, they will have a greater vested interest in their approach and will likely not want to see it unraveled no matter who is elected president in 2012.

Finally, we do point out that there are many positive provisions in the national law. The exchange, however, is simply one mechanism to achieve the goals of providing comprehensive and affordable insurance to the uninsured. There are other equally valid approaches.

Placing all bets on setting up an exchange system prohibits states from becoming laboratories for experimentation. One size may not fit all.

There are many other points one could raise. Let us know what works for you.

Best regards,

Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign
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