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88 Members of Congress Sign the
Rockefeller/Waxman "Dear Colleague" Letter!

82 Representatives and 6 Senators

The "Dear Colleague" Letter recently circulated on Capitol Hill by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) garnered 88 signatures. Highlighting the Consumers Union's recent report on the plight of the uninsured and the under-insured, the letter clearly stated that "the marketplace is not closing the gaps in coverage" and called on the President to dedicate budget surplus funds for "universal health care coverage for all Americans."  (See below for full text of the Rockefeller/Waxman Dear Colleague letter, and the letter to President Clinton calling for universal coverage)

Congratulations to everyone who helped with this effort! We were up against stiff competition . . . appropriations floor votes, hundreds of "Dear Colleague" letters circulating at the same time, frazzled Legislative Aides and harried member of Congress.  But we got the words "universal health care" back on their minds and we got a significant number to take action. 

Below is the final list of those who signed the letter.  

Representatives who signed the letter (by state):
Alaska - Hilliard
Arizona - Pastor
California -  Becerra, Berman, Dixon, Eshoo, Farr, Filner, Lantos, Lee, Millender-McDonald, Miller, Napalitano,                     Pelosi, Roybal-Allard, Stark, Waters, Waxman, Woolsey
Connecticut -  DeLauro, Maloney
DC - Norton
Florida - Brown, Hastings, Wexler
Georgia - Lewis, McKinney
Hawaii - Abercrombie, Mink
Illinois - Davis, Gutierrez, Rush, Schakowsky
Indiana - Carson
Louisiana -  Jefferson
Massachusetts - Capuano, Delahunt, Frank, Markey, McGovern, Olver, Tierney
Maryland - Cummings
Michigan - Bonior, Conyers, Dingell, Kilpatrick
Minnesota - Oberstar
Missouri - Clay, Andrews
New Jersey - Payne
New York - Engel, Hinchey, LaFalce, Maloney, McNulty, Meeks, Nadler, Owens, Serrano, Towns
Ohio - Brown, Kucinich, Strickland, Tubbs-Jones
Oregon - DeFazio
Pennsylvania - Brady, Coyne, Fattah
Rhode Island - Weygand
South Carolina - Clyburn
Texas - Doggett, Lee
Virginia - Scott
Vermont - Sanders
Washington - McDermott
Wisconsin - Baldwin, Barrett, Obey
West Virginia - Rahall
American Samoa - Faleomavaega
Virgin Islands - Christensen

Senators who signed the letter (by state):
Hawaii - Akaka
Massachusetts - Kerry
Minnesota - Wellstone
Nebraska - Kerrey
Rhode Island - Reed
West Virginia - Rockefeller

For more information:
Shelley Moskowitz, national Gray Panthers in Washington DC, 202-737-6637 ext. 25 or moskowitz@graypanthers.org.

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Congress of the United States
Washington, DC 20510
September 7, 2000

Dear Colleague:

All over America, the ranks of the uninsured and the underinsured are swelling. There are now 44 million people with no health care insurance whatsoever. Even those who do have health insurance and are struck by a serious illness are finding out that health insurance often leaves them with large out-of-pocket costs. The fact is too many Americans - regardless of whether they have insurance - are at risk of crushing financial burdens from health care costs. Consumers Union estimates that about 29 million families are paying 10 percent or more this year out-of-pocket costs for health care. A serious illness or accident can result in staggering bills that cripple a family budget.

Six years ago, efforts to reform the health care system ended in failure and Americans were told to put their faith in the marketplace, not the government. Today it is clear that market forces are not filling the coverage gaps, even with our extraordinarily strong economy. Rising per capita health care costs, increasing numbers of uninsured individuals and mounting financial burdens continue to confound the system.

With the budget surplus growing beyond even conservative expectations, it is time we revisited pressing national priorities, specifically universal health coverage. Alarming numbers of uninsured Americans scream out for Congress to take action. The current system is clearly not functioning well for all. Here is a snapshot of the problem:

* Census trend data show an increase in the number of the uninsured over the last decade - rising from 32 million to over 44 million in 1998. Between 1993 and 1998 alone, the number of uninsured jumped by 5 million.

* Medicaid currently insures 44 million poor people. But 11 million poor are still without health insurance, despite recent Medicaid expansions.

* Roughly 85 percent of the uninsured live in families headed by a person in the workforce, with about 60 percent being full-year, full-time workers. Three-fourths of the working uninsured are not offered or eligible for coverage in their workplace.

* While half of the uninsured are White, only 14 percent of Whites are uninsured as compared to 35 percent of Hispanics and 23 percent of Blacks.

Consequences abound as a result of Americans being uninsured.

Uninsured individuals are more likely to be in fair or poor health. Also, they are roughly half as likely to get vital preventive services such as mammograms, prostate exams and routine physicals compared to individuals with medical coverage. A recent article in the September issue of Consumer Reports concluded that while the U.S. spends more money on health care than any other country, the nation's 44 million uninsured face a system of second-class health care. The article added that a two-tiered system of care exists for chronically ill patients: the top tier for those who have the means to buy state-of-the-art medications and technology, and the bottom tier for those who do not.

We urge you to join us in our effort to put universal health care back on this nation's agenda. By signing this letter to the President, you will be exhibiting your willingness to dedicate funds from the budget surplus towards universal coverage for all Americans. This letter will be shared with Senate and House leadership and will serve as evidence of Congressional willingness to dedicate budget surplus funds for this purpose. For too long we have allowed this problem to grow. It is time to seize this moment, in a time of unprecedented prosperity, to bring universal health care coverage to all Americans.

Thank you for your consideration on this critical matter. If you would like to sign the letter to the President please call or email Deborah Veres with Senator Rockefeller at x47993 or Karen Nelson with Congressman Waxman at x53976.

Sincerely,

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Congress of the United States
Washington, DC 20510
September 7, 2000

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Clinton:

We are writing to urge you to dedicate funds from the budget surplus towards universal health care coverage for all Americans. All over this country, the ranks of the uninsured and the underinsured are swelling. There are now 44 million people with no health care insurance whatsoever. Even those who do have health insurance and are struck by a serious illness are finding out that health insurance often leaves them with large out-of-pocket costs. The fact is too many Americans - regardless of whether they have insurance - are at risk of crushing financial burdens from health care costs.

Six years ago, your Administration led an effort to reform the health care system that unfortunately ended in failure. Since this time, the number of uninsured has only increased. Because of the alarming numbers of uninsured, Americans cry out for this Administration and Congress to take action. The marketplace is clearly not closing the gaps in coverage.

With the budget surplus growing beyond even conservative expectations, it is time we revisited this pressing national priority. The undersigned members of Congress believe that the time to act on this critical matter is now.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

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