OK, so the House grabbed the high ground last week with a bold and courageous plan to expand access to affordable health coverage – combining employer and individual mandates, boldly going where no state health reform plan (seriously) has gone before. On Thursday, State Senate leaders – who had been urging fast action all year – became, well, languid, suggesting no action was needed until January. Yesterday, a Globe article suggested rethinking was going on, and Senate action could come within three weeks. So, let’s have some perspective on the Senate:
First, Senate President Travaglini deserves credit for being the first major state leader to target health reform as a key priority for 2005 action, back in November 2004 with his pledge to cut the number of uninsured in half over two years. On top of that, the Senate has been the best friend of health access advocates for the last eight years, and just as much since Trav took over in 2003. The Senate President saved 36,000 MassHealth clients from losing coverage in 2003 by establishing MassHealth Essential; Senators took the lead in fully funding the Children’s Medical Security Plan in 2004, ending a waiting list of 15,000 kids; and much more.
The Senate is chock full of terrific and reliable senators with long track records in doing the right thing for health care access – dare I name a few: Mark Montigny, Therese Murray, Dick Moore, Pam Resor, Steve Tolman, Marian Walsh, Fred Berry, Tom McGee, Sue Tucker, Andrea Nucifuro, Jarrett Barrios, Cynthia Creem, Susan Fargo, Jack Hart, Mark Pacheco, Harriette Chandler, Ed Augustus, Pat Jehlen, Dianne Wilkerson – damn, I know I forgot a few! We could do a heck of a lot worse.
So let’s not mourn. Let’s organize and work with senators to get the best possible deal as quickly as possible. Click here to ACT Now, and please don’t wait. And please keep collecting those signatures – click here to download a petition now. We’ve got two weeks left to top 100,000 – all volunteer, no paid signature gatherers. These are your and our sources of power in this debate. Please get involved today.