HARTFORD - A Connecticut delegation of civil rights groups met with Senator Joseph Lieberman's staff yesterday to urge the Senator to support comprehensive health care reform and to discuss his intentions for Connecticut residents. Specifically, the delegation asked the Senator to support key provisions in H.R. 3950, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was introduced late yesterday afternoon.
Included in the delegation lead by the Connecticut NAACP State Conference, were Scot X Esdaile, president of the CT NAACP State Conference and NAACP national board member, Valerie Shultz Wilson, president of the Urban League of Southern Connecticut., with Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and senior vice president for advocacy and policy.
"Senator Lieberman's staff heard our concerns, but were unable to assure us that the Senator would support the full Senate moving to an ‘up-or-down' vote once the debate on health care reform ended," stated Esdaile.
"The Senator informed us that he is still considering his options, and is unsure of whether he will support or join a filibuster of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What Senator Lieberman doesn't seem to realize is the longer he delays this debate the more people living in Connecticut, and throughout our nation will find themselves going bankrupt from exorbitant health care costs, or worse, unnecessarily dying from a lack of adequate health care," added Esdaile. The vote on whether or not to enact cloture on the bill or filibuster it is currently scheduled to take place Saturday, November 21.
The Connecticut civil rights leaders urged Senator Lieberman to quickly pass a bill that is at least as comprehensive as the House bill, complete with a public option provision that provides ample health care coverage to as many Americans as possible; ensures that all Americans can afford health insurance and that pre-existing conditions are covered; and takes aggressive steps to end racial and ethnic health care disparities. Specifically, the group asked that Lieberman support provisions which:
• Expand health insurance options, by allowing individuals and families to stay with the insurer they currently have, choose a different private insurer, or to go with a newly created government run public option;
• Offer subsidies to help low- and moderate-income households to purchase health insurance;
• Protect and expand Medicaid to provide free health care to all Americans with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level;
• Ban the health care insurance industry from implementing bans on lifetime limits, charging people more due to health status or gender, or denying coverage for preexisting conditions;
• Provide for the cost of prevention and wellness services to be covered by health insurance; and
• Include cultural competency and linguistic appropriateness provisions, empowerment zones, workforce diversity, Office of Minority Health, Office on Women's Health, Indian Health Services, data collection and reporting.
"The Connecticut State Conference of the NAACP is calling on Senator Lieberman to support cloture of H.R. 3950, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before Thanksgiving and to personally meet with communities of color throughout the state during his Thanksgiving home work period. This is among the most important piece of legislation for residents of Connecticut and the country in recent years. Senator Lieberman needs to hear from his constituents living in communities hardest hit by our nation's broken healthcare system. There are many families across Connecticut that won't be giving thanks next week, they'll be worrying about how to pay for medical bills or how to just stay healthy" concluded Esdaile.