Congresswoman Waters Sends Letter to Speaker Pelosi on Health Care Priorities
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent the following letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reiterating the provisions she would like to see in the final health care bill:
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
I appreciate your willingness to listen to the views of progressive Members of Congress
during the Democratic Caucus' conference call on health care last week. However, I believe it is important to reiterate that certain provisions are critical for inclusion in the final, merged health care reform bill. I urge you to press for the following provisions:
• A single national exchange, that will allow individuals to choose from a variety of quality health plans that comply with federal standards.
• A public option within the national exchange to compete with private health plans (as provided in the House bill).
• Sufficient subsidies to make health plans affordable for American families, specifically the subsidies provided in the House bill for individuals and families below 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and the subsidies provided in the Senate bill for those between 250% and 400% of FPL.
• The earliest possible implementation date, and no later than January 1, 2013 (as in the House bill).
• A strong employer mandate that requires employers (except small businesses) to offer health insurance to their employees (including both full-time and part-time employees) and contribute at least 65% of the premiums for family policies and 72.5% for individual policies; and that requires all employer-sponsored plans to comply with federal standards (as in the House bill).
• An 8% payroll tax imposed on those employers who choose not to comply with the mandate (as in the House bill).
• Financing through a surcharge on taxpayers who earn over $500,000 instead of excise taxes on health insurance (as in the House bill).
• Full repeal of the anti-trust exemption for health insurers.
• An increase in payment rates for primary care providers under Medicaid to 100% of Medicare payment rates in order to ensure quality care for Medicaid recipients (as in the House bill).
• Assistance to state governments to cover 100% of the cost of newly eligible Medicaid recipients for the first two years and at least 91% of the cost thereafter (as in the House bill).
• Sufficient funding for Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH), which serve large numbers of uninsured patients in my district and nationwide, and if DSH funding cuts are unavoidable, no cuts beyond those provided in the House bill.
• A prohibition against insurance companies' discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions effective immediately (as in the Senate bill).
• Elimination of the Medicare donut hole (as in the House bill).
• Significant efforts to address health disparities across all federal agencies and programs involved in health policy.
• No restrictions on immigrants' ability to purchase health insurance on the exchange with their own money (as in the House bill).
• No restrictions on abortion coverage beyond those in current law.
Thank you for your consideration of my views. Please continue to keep me and other progressive Members informed of your progress. I look forward to continuing to work with you to pass comprehensive health care reform for the American people.
Member of Congress