The ongoing effort to reform our health care system received a shock on Tuesday with Scott Brown’s upset win against Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate election race to replace the late Edward M. Kennedy Jr.. This means that Democrats no longer have the filibuster-proof 60-seat majority to pass health care reform as planned, and are currently in the process of re-assessing their efforts and strategies.
Several options have been put forward, but it is as-of-yet unclear what strategy will prevail. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has already announced that the House will not adopt the Senate bill, a strategy that would have avoided another vote in the Senate. The Senate version of the health care reform legislation includes the problematic Nelson-Casey provision that would place tremendous bureaucratic obstacles for abortion to be included in insurance packages in the Exchange. Additionally, the Senate bill would not allow undocumented persons to purchase health insurance from the Exchange with their own money. Another option, one put forward by President Obama, would be to pass a smaller, pared-down bill that encompasses some “core elements” of the reforms currently being proposed. Yet another option would rely on the budget reconciliation process. What has become clear, however, is that lawmakers are operating under different circumstances than they were before the Massachusetts election results.
Staff from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) visited the offices of key legislators this week, and we will continue to work towards the best possible package. Legislators said they have received a record number of phone calls and letters from our activists on the ground and in their districts. We must sincerely thank you for your support and continued hard work – your voices are being heard.
As we commemorate the 37th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, it is critical for us to advance a national reproductive justice agenda. We will continue to update you as this situation develops, and continue to demand that health care reform not be passed on the backs of women and immigrants. ¡Que siga la lucha!
The NLIRH staff
P.S. Check out some of our recent media hits related to health care reform!
RH Reality Check: “Securing Real Choices Means Going Beyond “Choice”
Silvia Henriquez, NLIRH Executive Director on GritTV
Houston Chronicle: “Now is the time for Latinas to speak up!”
New York Times Letter to the Editor by Silvia Henriquez