Open Letter to Presidential Candidates on State Health Care Reform

Experts available for comment

PHILADELPHIA, April 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The undersigned organizations from around the state are releasing the attached letter on Thursday, calling on the major Democratic candidates campaigning here now to draw attention to Pennsylvania's efforts to reform healthcare access and lower costs in SB 1137, HB 2098 and HB 2005.

An Open Letter

April 10, 2008

Dear Senator Clinton and Senator Obama:

Healthcare has been central to each of your campaigns. As you work here in advance of the April 22nd primary, we wanted to alert you that healthcare is the number one opportunity we have to improve the lives of working Pennsylvanians right now. We, the undersigned, believe your campaigns could advance the cause of Pennsylvania's reforms, should you choose to make them an issue.

Early last year, Governor Rendell unveiled an ambitious package of reforms known as The Prescription for Pennsylvania (Rx4PA, www.rxforpa.com). Rx4PA would expand access to health insurance with a high quality healthcare plan. With revisions from the House Democrats, that plan is now known as "Access to Basic Care," and it passed the House this month in Senate Bill 1137.

Rx4PA would also rein in the forces that have driven up the price of insurance in the small group market, reward employers already providing coverage and insure that no one with a pre-existing condition is denied coverage. These also passed the House of Representatives in House Bill 2098 and House Bill 2005.

If these reforms succeed in the Commonwealth, it will make the arguments for either of your national plans much stronger. Rx4PA's success should also galvanize your allies in Washington while chastening your opponents. In this way, the states really are the proving ground for great changes that Washington can adopt later. It will take state action first to begin changing the way that healthcare gets paid for.

In the national debate and in Pennsylvania, some argue that market forces can fix healthcare. "Consumer Driven Plans" are getting pitched here, too, though everyone reasonable knows it has been lax oversight in the insurance market that has allowed the industry to make coverage unaffordable. We must defeat the argument for a pure market solution soundly.

The undersigned ask that you help us get another 200,000 Pennsylvanians covered. Your campaigns could each focus a great deal of attention on these reforms. That's why we are looking to you now. Help us pass The Prescription for Pennsylvania.

John Dodds, Philadelphia Unemployment Project

Rev. Robert Coombe, Yardley United Methodist Church

Rev. Randy Barge, Calvin Presbyterian Church

Joe Hoeffel, Montgomery County Commissioner

Lance Haver, Director of Consumer Affairs, City of Philadelphia

Campaign for Working Families

National Physicians Alliance

Coalition of Labor Union Women

Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger

Rev. Robert Combe, Yardley United Methodist Church

David Hodo, Norristown Councilman at large, President George Washington Carver Community Center

Jewish Labor Council

Lisa Romaniello. Upper Moreland Township Commissioner

Bill Procyson, Norristown Councilman at large

Linda Christian, Norristown Councilwoman 2nd District

William Caldwell, Norristown Councilman 3rd District

Olivia Brady, Norristown Community Activist

National Nursing Centers Consortium

Pathways PA

The PFT Local#3 Retirement Chapter

Pennsylvania ACORN

Pennsylvania Democracy for America

SOURCE Philadelphia Unemployment Project

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