Take Action at Upcoming Town Hall Meetings

There are a couple of weeks left in the August recess, which is when Congress is out-of-session, and our Representatives and Senators return to their districts to speak with constituents. As you have probably heard by now, this has been an opportunity for groups trying to defeat health care reform to mobilize residents around town hall meetings, and to raise unfounded fears about government playing a role in our health care system. Mass-Care participated in an extremely effective counter-mobilization outside Congressman Tierney’s office in Peabody, where a large coalition of labor, community, health care, and faith organizations turned out 150 people to support Rep Tierney’s work backing single payer and a strong public option.

There are two extremely important town hall meetings coming up, one being hosted by Representative Steven Lynch, the other by Senator John Kerry. Rep Lynch is a long-time co-sponsor of HR676, the single payer bill, but this year he has not signed on as a co-sponsor and has indicated reluctance to sign on even to a public option provision. If you live in Lynch’s district or know anyone who does, please spread the word about this important town hall meeting. Senator Kerry sits on the Senate Finance Committee that is currently stalled out in its bipartisan negotiations, and has become a bottle-neck for health reform. Kerry has stated that he supports single payer reform, but the politics of health reform in the Senate are looking very grim currently, and the Senate may not have the votes to pass even a public option.

Please mark your calendar for these two events, time and place below, and let us know if you will be able to attend:

Congressman Stephen Lynch Town Hall meeting
When: Thursday, August 27th at 5PM (We will be meeting at 3PM in front of the main entrance gate)
Where: Curry College 1071 Blue Hill Ave, Milton, MA

Senator John Kerry Town hall meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, Sept 2nd 7:30PM (We will be meeting at 5PM in front of the high school)
WHERE: Somerville High School Auditorium, 81 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA

You can raise these important questions at town hall meetings:

1) In both the House and the Senate, motions will be voted on from the floor that would allow states to experiment with single payer health care and receive necessary federal waivers. These amendments will be introduced by Rep Kucinich in the House and Sen Sanders in the Senate. Ask your Rep or Senator if they will vote yes to support these important amendments that would let a state like Massachusetts act as a “laboratory of reform” for single payer. This is how universal health care was won in Canada, where Saskatchewan implemented single payer first, followed by other provinces.

2) In the House, Representative Anthony Weiner from New York will introduce an amendment that would pass single payer instead of the current legislation. This amendment will be allowed by the House leadership to come up for a full floor vote. Ask your Representative if he or she will vote YES on this amendment. Reps can vote yes whether or not they are current co-sponsors of HR676, the single payer bill.

3) Tell your Rep or Senator that health reform in Massachusetts is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable, and has had benefits and eligibility standards slashed for the second year in a row. If Congress does not pass effective cost control – at a minimum, a strong public option – then both the Massachusetts law and any new national subsidies will be unaffordable. Ask your Rep or Senator if they will support a public option that is strong, which means that it can set prices like Medicare and that private insurers will not be allowed to cherry-pick healthy enrollees, leaving costly patients to the public plan.