August 16, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
Supporting U.S. House Healthcare Reform Bill
WASHINGTON—The healthcare reform legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week confronts the current system's problems with a real commitment to providing high-quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans. Real healthcare reform has twin goals-to provide affordable, high-quality healthcare and to cut the unsustainable growth of healthcare costs-and the House "tri-committee" bill will meet both goals.
The legislation provides coverage for 97 percent of all Americans and reforms the health insurance system by removing the unacceptable exclusion for pre-existing conditions and by providing financial assistance to make this new insurance affordable. The bill includes cost controls while retaining the employer-based system by creating a robust public plan that will compete with private insurers. It also has a strong "pay or play" requirement to ensure that 160 million working Americans have insurance through their employer or the public plan. The bill also protects working families by not taxing their employer-provided insurance.
The AFT strongly supports and urges adoption of the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act" and applauds its authors-Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)-for putting together this comprehensive healthcare reform bill.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.