As lines are drawn on Capitol Hill for the coming battle over health care reform, Progressive States Network is putting state legislators in the middle of the national debate. On Wednesday, PSN led a delegation representing over 700 state legislators to Washington D.C. to deliver a letter to the Obama Administration and Congress urging them to pass comprehensive health care reform with a public insurance option by the end of the year. The letter, which was signed by a bipartisan group of over 700 legislators from 48 states, called for any federal reform bill to include a public health insurance option, strong affordability protections, and shared employer responsibility for health care costs.
(Click here to see media clips of the day's events below)
At a meeting with the White House and events with both chambers of Congress, PSN's delegation of leading health care legislators drew on years of experience working to bring quality affordable health care to their constituents in the absence of federal reform to send a loud and clear message to the nation's leaders: with state budgets crumbling under the economic burden of a broken health care system, they need federal help to establish the choice of a national public plan, and they stand ready and willing to lend their policy and political expertise to help implement that plan.
The highlight of the day was a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and White House Director of Health Care reform at which the PSN delegation delivered the letter and offered their active collaboration moving forward to craft a national solution to the nation's health care crisis. At the meeting, PSN legislator Iowa Senator Jack Hatch was named Chairman of the newly announced White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Care Reform. At a press conference during the meeting, he pledged active collaboration from PSN's growing national coalition of legislators to implement the reform priorities outlined in PSN's letter and supported by the Obama Adminstration.
Earlier in the day, the PSN delegation delivered the letter to Congress in a private meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and at a Capitol Hill press conference hosted by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, third ranking Democrat on the Senate Healthcare, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee. At the meeting State Sen. Hatch delivered the letter to Sen. Harkin, who praised PSN's work in building grassroots support for national reform and pledged to implement a national public insurance option that would relieve state economies and bring quality affordable care to all Americans. Congressman Steve Kagen of Wisconsin accepted the letter on behalf of the House of Representatives, and a group of PSN speakers outlined how the work they have done to build public insurance options, expand Medicaid and SCHIP, and create cost controls on the state level can serve as models for federal reform.
The press conference gathered significant media attention, highlights of which are shared below. To read the full letter and encourage others to sign it, go to http://progressivestates.org/statefedhealth .
YouTube Video of Opening Remarks:
Dallas Morning News: “State legislators lobby for public health care insurance by year's end”
Seattle Times: “Regional lawmakers, doctors join campaign supporting a public health plan”
Roll Call: “Senate GOP Still Saying ”˜No’.”
CQ: “Sebelius Says Obama Wants Health Overhaul Cost 'Within the Bounds of Reason”
The New York Times: “The Early Word: Policy in Overdrive”
- http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/the-early-word-policy-in-overdrive/#more-27011 
ABC News: “The Note: Windmills & Bulldozers”
The Arizona Guardian: “Sinema to discuss health care with top U.S. officials at White House “
Hartford Courant: "State Health Care Proposal Praised As National Model"
Houston Style Magazine: "Representative Garnet F. Coleman Urges White House and Congress"
The Olympian: “Lawmaker to tell of state success in White House health-care meeting”
Racine News: “Wisconsin Health Care Reform Advocates Honoered in Nation’s Capitol for Role in Building Grassroots Momentum for National Health Care Reform”
Radio Iowa: “Iowa legislator to head White House working group on health care”
Radio Iowa: "State senator pressing for 'competitive public product'"
Seattle Post Globe: “Health care reform and Nickels crosses a picket line”
Salem News: “Sebelius, DeParle announce establishment of State Legislators for Health Care Reform”
WisPolitics.com: “Health Care Advocates Decend on DC”
AFL-CIO Blog: “700 State Legislators Back Public Health Insurance Option”
Arizona Politicker.com: "Arizona Legislators Urge Obama Administration to Pass Health Care Reform Including Public Option"
AZNetroots: “Arizona Legislators Urge Obama Administration to Pass Health Care Reform Including Public Option”
Connecticut News Junkie: “State Pushes For Federal Health Care Debate”
Heatland Heartbeat: "Harkin at Progressive States Network Press Conference"
Labor Union Blog: “700 State Legislators Back Public Health Insurance Option”
People, Profit, Power: "Update on National Health Care Reform Legislation"
People's Weekly World: "Minnesota lawmakers ask Congress to offer public health option"
SEIU Blog: "State Legislators to the Hill: We Need Health Care Reform"
St. Louis Beacon: "Pro-health care legislators tell Obama 'we've got your back' on public option"
SquareState.net: "Colorado Legislators to Federal Lawmakers: We Need Health Care Reform Now"
Turn Maine Blue: “Rep. Sharon Treat leads delegation to D.C. on health care reform”
Talking Points Memo: “Urging Public Option, 700 Legislators Send Delegation to White House and Capitol Hill”
PSN's press release:
PSN's Vimeo Channel of video clips from pres conference:
Turing Politics Upside Down: “I'm in DC Today to Discuss Health Care Reform”
US Senate Archives: Recording of opening remarks
Talk Radio News Service: “Senator: Progressive States Network Will Help Solve Healthcare Problem”
Talk Radio News Service: “Progressive States Network Urges Inexpensive Healthcare”
Talk Radio News Service: “Progressive States Network Wants Choice In Healthcare”
Talk Radio News Service: “Progressive States Network Urges Federal Healthcare Reform”
Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch presents the letter on behalf of PSN and 700 of his colleagues across the country.
US Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa accepts the letter on behalf of the Senate.
Congressman Steve Kagen, M.D., of Wisconsin accepts the letter on behalf of the House of Representatives.
Connecticut State Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan.
PSN Board Member and Georgia State Senator Nan Orrock.
Washington State Senator Karen Keiser.