NGOs Call for 'Meaningful' Health Care Reform

Nine national organizations have issued a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders urging the passage of "meaningful health care reform this year."

Released on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming Health Reform Summit in Washington, the letter is intended to discourage a focus at the Summit on small, incremental steps rather than "meaningful" reform.

Ron Pollack, Executive Director of the consumer health organization Families USA, one of the signers on the letter, said: "To serve America's families and businesses, it is incumbent on Summit participants to focus on meaningful reform, not 'small ball' increments or partisan bickering."

"Failing that, Congress and the President should move expeditiously to enact a blend of the House and Senate bills," he added.

The letter reads: "In their entirety, we believe the bills that the Senate and House have passed would achieve meaningful reform. They move close to securing quality, affordable health coverage and care for all Americans."

"We welcome ideas that strengthen these historic improvements for America's families and businesses, and we welcome alternative ways for truly achieving meaningful reform. But doing less than that is not acceptable."

It continues: "America's families expect their elected leaders to work together to solve our nation's problems, and they need health reform now."

"Congress and the President should move expeditiously to complete the almost century-old goal of meaningful reform without delay."

Signatory organizations on the letter include the American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Nurses Association, Consumers Union, Families USA, the National Association of Community Health Centers, PICO, and SEIU.

Hope for bipartisanship at Thursday's summit, meanwhile, is low among most analysts who see the event as more of a "political theater" for Obama and the Democrats, especially with Republican opposition to "ObamaCare" remaining strong.

"We need to show up and crash the party," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said, according to Reuters. "We shouldn't let the White House have a six-hour taxpayer-funded infomercial on ObamaCare."

Republicans have also said they fear that the live televised debate is meant to portray them as "the party of no" and unwilling to compromise on legislation.

The GOP has blockaded passage of previous health care bills, maintaining that reform on the issue needs to "start from scratch" to be effective.

Democrats, meanwhile, have called the GOP's requests unrealistic, and say they intend to use the reconciliation process to push a final bill passed the Republican filibuster in the Senate.

The process would allow the bill to be passed in the Senate by a simple majority vote, rather than the normal 60.

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