We would like to pass on to you information about an opportunity that you or others in your diocese may find helpful. The Citizens Health Care Working Group is holding public meetings and soliciting written and on-line comments on Americans views on how our health care system should be reformed. The Working Group was established by the 2003 Medicare bill, through the efforts of Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT0 and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The mission of the Working Group is to conduct a nationwide public debate about improving the health care system to provide every American with the ability to obtain quality, affordable health care coverage, and to prepare for a vote by Congress on the recommendations that result from the debate.
The Working Group consists of fourteen people representing consumers, providers, employers and workers. The Working Group is conducting health care community meetings throughout the United States from January to May 2006. They also have a website, where you can read about health care in the United States, take a poll, send in your comments, register for a community meeting, and learn how to put on your own community meeting.
In May 2006, the Working Group will issue preliminary recommendations, based on all the information it has gathered. The public will be invited to comments on these recommendations through July. By September 2006, the Working Group is required to issue Final Recommendations, which will be submitted to the President and to Congress for their consideration. Key Congressional committees are to hold hearings to discuss the Working Groups recommendations.
The Working Group wants to hear the views of the American public on four questions:
- What health care benefits and services should be provided?
- How should health care be delivered?
- How should health care coverage be financed?
- What tradeoffs are you willing to make in either benefits or financing to ensure access to affordable, high quality health care coverage and services?
- You can share your views on health care in the United States by participating in one of the community meetings. The community meetings involve small groups working together to provide feedback to the Task Force. While there is no opportunity to present testimony or make individual statements, participants contribute comments that help shape the discussion and can be captured in the event transcript. See the list below for upcoming meeting locations and check the Task Force website for updates - www.citizenshealthcare.gov. You can also view reports from past sessions on the website.
- If there is no community meeting scheduled for your area, you can take the on-line poll or send comments to the Task Force.
- This is an excellent opportunity to make sure Catholic voices and the Catholic message on health care are heard. The Catholic community has consistently worked for access to affordable health care for all that reflects these principles: Respect for Life; Priority Concern for the Poor; Universal Access; Comprehensive Benefits; Pluralism; Quality; Cost Control; and Equitable Financing.
Citizens Health Care Task Force Community Meeting Schedule:
|March 21||Starkville, MS||March 22||Virtual town Hall meeting|
|March 25||Phoenix, AZ||March 26||Daytona Beach, FL|
|March 27||Verona/Tupelo, MS||March 29||Wesson, MS|
|March 30||Hattiesburg, MS||March 31||Upper Valley, NH|
|April 6||Harford, CT||April 8||Des Moines, IA|
|April 10||Philadelphia, PA||April 11||Las Vegas, NV|
|April 11||Clarksdale, MS||April 18||Greenville, MS|
|April 19||Sacramento, CA||April 19||San Antonio, TX|
|April 20||Newton, MS||April 22||Fargo, ND|
|April 22||New York, NY||April 25||Lexington, KY|
|April 29||Little Rock, AR||April 29||Cincinnati, OH|
|May 6||Sioux Falls, SD|
Possible Comments for Citizens Health Care Task Force
- The starting point for health care reform must be an acknowledgement of the universal right to health care, flowing from the fundamental right to life and dignity of all human beings, from conception to natural death.
- All people need and should have affordable access to the comprehensive range of health care services necessary to meet basic human health care needs. Access to health care should not depend on stage of life, where or whether you work, how much you earn, where you live, or where you were born.
- The moral measure of any health care reform proposal is whether it offers affordable and accessible health care to all, and especially how it cares for the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable among us.
- Health care reform should protect life, not harm it. People must not be forced to pay for or contribute to procedures that involve the destruction of human life, such as abortion and euthanasia.
- The Catholic community (including the bishops conference, the Catholic Health Association and the Catholic Charities USA) has for over 80 years worked for a health care system that provides access to affordable health care for all. We are united more than ever on the moral imperative for comprehensive health care reform that guarantees accessible, affordable health care for all.
- The market provides tools and capacity for financing and allocating the costs of health care, but health care is not just another commodity and should not be simply left to market forces. Health care financing is important not as a matter of economic or political ideology, but because it provides the means to the goal of providing everyone with access to affordable health care.
- A reformed health care system should allow the participation of the public and private sectors including voluntary, religious, and nonprofit institutions and organizations in the delivery of care and services, and should include respect for religious and ethical values of consumers and providers.