Health Care Reform Efforts Gaining Wider Support
Leaders from AARP, the Business Roundtable and Service Employees International Union on Tuesday announced the formation of an "unlikely coalition" to address the affordability of health care, the Wall Street Journal reports.
AARP CEO Bill Novelli, Business Roundtable President John Castellani and SEIU President Andrew Stern said they plan to work through the partnership to "force lawmakers to address the issue of health care overhaul through a mix of advertising, lobbying and public outreach," the Journal reports. The three groups have "vastly different constituencies and political leanings," so an agreement on a single approach to reforming health care is "unlikely," according to the Journal.
However, "the fact that they're looking to coordinate their efforts shows how dominant the issue of overhauling health care is becoming," the Journal reports.
Castellani said, "We want to work together to create the political environment and the political will, where leaders believe that it's to their advantage to solve these problems, instead of running away from them."
Novelli said, "[W]e've got the ability through this coalition to reach out into boardrooms, into policymakers' offices, as well as to the public."
Stern said, "The winds of change are blowing. I think it's now time for our Congress to step up to the plate" (Solomon/Maher, Wall Street Journal, 1/17).
Meanwhile, a separate coalition made up of 16 organizations on Thursday is expected to announce its own approach for reducing the number of uninsured U.S. residents (Wall Street Journal, 1/17). Coalition members include the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, Families USA, America's Health Insurance Plans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Details of the plan have not been released.
AHA Senior Associate Director of Policy Molly Collins Offner said a consensus approach has been reached, although some organizations originally included in the coalition -- including SEIU and the National Association of Manufacturers -- dropped out during negotiations (CongressDaily, 1/17).
Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack said, "These are groups who have disagreed with each other on a host of different health care issues, but we've decided to come together to achieve a consensus and work together" (Wall Street Journal, 1/17).
AHIP President Karen Ignagni said the proposal is "workable and operational" (CongressDaily, 1/17).
The coalition releasing its consensus plan on Thursday "will fudge some of the most difficult issues in an effort to keep the coalition together, [but] the outlines of a genuinely comprehensive reform plan are coming into focus," Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein writes in an opinion piece. A consensus likely will include universal coverage through mandates on individuals or employers; subsidies for lower income families; changes in tax policy; state insurance pools; and the widespread adoption of electronic health records, Pearlstein writes.
Concessions from doctors, hospitals, insurers, workers and drug companies likely will be necessary in order to "get a plan that holds together," according to Pearlstein. "These concessions won't come easy, which is why there has been no significant progress on health care reform in the decade since the Clinton debacle," Pearlstein adds (Pearlstein, Washington Post, 1/17).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on the coalition among AARP, the Business Roundtable and SEIU (Schalch, "Morning Edition," NPR, 1/17).
Audio of the segment will be available online following the broadcast.
In addition, washingtonpost.com on Wednesday featured a live web discussion with Post columnist Pearlstein on the health care coalitions (washingtonpost.com, 1/17).
The discussion transcript is available online.