By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst
Sept. 4, 2009 – Black lawmakers want to get out in front of the president’s speech next week and have sent him a letter outlining what they don’t want to see “scaled back” in his plans to overhaul the health care system.
The letter sent Wednesday is signed by three members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who also serve on the Health and Wellness Task Force: Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Donna M. Christensen . They called on the president to “stress unwavering support ” during his address to Congress for the following:
1. Not reducing cost: “Reducing the overall cost of a budget-neutral bill is therefore unnecessary and not a strategy that we do or can support.”
2. Support for a public option: “A strong public health option that will allow the nation’s more than 46 million uninsured Americans – more than half of whom are people of color – to finally have access to affordable, meaningful health care coverage no later than 2013.”
3. Eliminating health care disparities: “A strong and demonstrative commitment from the White House to, in the days and weeks to come, use health care reform to achieve health equity.”
4. Equality for U.S. Territories: “The nearly 5 million Americans who live in the U.S. Territories should benefit from health care reform in a manner that is equitable to those Americans who live within the 50 states and in the District of Columbia.”
5. Rewarding preventive health care services: “This strategy will not only allow the realization of true cost savings of prevention, health disparity elimination and other provisions, but it also will provide an avenue through which the savings generated can replace current [payment system].”
Lee, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the 43 members of the Caucus “are committed allies and partners in the fight to reform America’s broken health care system.”
It will be interesting to hear if any of these policy issues remain in the president’s new version he’ll unveil Sept. 9. Throughout this debate members of the CBC have been outspoken on these issues and some have made it clear they will not support any legislation without a public option.
This could be a line in the sand for Obama and his former congressional colleagues.
Full Transcript: See the CBC’s Letter to Pres. Obama