Citizens’ Health Care Working Group
“Health Care that Works for All Americans”
Note: This message is a call for action on your part. If you are already well informed on the Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, then skip to the three asterisks in the latter half of this message to take action. It is important that as many citizen voices as possible be heard during this process.
Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) authored the “Health Care that Works for All Americans Act,” legislation designed to launch a national dialogue on health policy and bring quality care within the reach of every American. “Through open, public community meetings, the bill seeks to make citizen input the cornerstone of the reform process, giving citizens an opportunity to make hard decisions and voice their priorities for how to reshape the health care system. It would also guarantee a vote by Congress on the recommendations that result from the discussions.”
The bill was enacted as an amendment to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). Sec. 1014 of the MMA describes “Health Care that Works for All Americans: Citizens’ Health Care Working Group,” and is available at the following link:
The process described in Sec. 1014 has begun. The Citizens’ Health Care Working Group has been established, and the initial steps have been completed. An informative website is accessible online:
Hearings have been held to gather information to prepare “The Health Report to the American People.” That report has been completed (though subject to
revision) and can be downloaded at the following link:
Beginning in mid-January, “community meetings” will be held throughout the nation to receive citizen input on reforming our health care system. The Working Group is also accepting other input, including public responses to a web-based questionnaire. Further information on what you can do to participate follows the three asterisks below.
After the community meetings are completed, the Working Group shall prepare and make available to the public through the Internet and other appropriate public channels, an interim set of recommendations on health care coverage and ways to improve and strengthen the health care system based on the information and preferences expressed at the community meetings. There shall be a 90-day public comment period on such recommendations.
After the expiration of the public comment period, the Working Group shall submit to Congress and the President a final set of recommendations.
Not later than 45 days after receiving the final recommendations of the Working Group, the President shall submit a report to Congress which shall contain– (1) additional views and comments on such recommendations; and (2) recommendations for such legislation and administrative actions as the President considers appropriate.
Not later than 45 days after receiving the report submitted by the President, each committee of jurisdiction of Congress, the Committee on Finance of the Senate, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives, shall hold at least one hearing on such report and on the final recommendations of the Working Group.
What you can do to contribute to the national dialogue on reform:
(1) Provide your answer to each of the following four questions (framed by the Working Group):
What concerns you most about health care in America today?
Our current way of paying for health care includes payments by individuals, employers, and government. Are there any changes you think should be made to this system?
What trade-offs do you think the American public is willing to make in either benefits or financing to ensure access to affordable, high quality health care?
What is your single most important recommendation to make to improve health care for all Americans?
Submit your answers online at the following link:
(2) Attend a community meeting. For an overview, with links to meeting dates and locations, registration materials, etc.:
(3) Tell your friends and members of organizations to which you belong to add their input to this process. For those without computers, please assist them in this process. Public libraries can provide computer access.
(4) For those willing to expand their efforts to advance this important national dialogue, further suggestions are listed at this link:
N.B.: The President, in his report to Congress, will make the final recommendations for any legislation and administrative actions. If we disagree with his recommendations, we will have no right to complain unless we have provided our input. If we do participate, then we have the right to expect from the President recommendations for “Health Care that Works for All Americans.”