WASHINGTON – Under the banner of Affordable Health Care is a Family Value, national consumer, faith and patient organizations representing tens of millions of families, held a lobby day and rally on Capitol Hill this afternoon pressing Congress to make sure that legislation includes clear affordability protections for families.

“We’re here today to send a message that affordable health care is a family value,” said Rev. Cory Sparks a Louisiana pastor from PICO National Network, an alliance of 1,000 congregations nationwide. “We welcome the Senate Finance Committee moving forward as another step on the path to reform, but we are worried that the Senate Finance Mark is off-mark on affordability for families.  We urge Members to make improvements that reduce premiums and lower out of pocket costs that families are expected to pay.”

As the Senate Finance Committee prepared to take up health reform legislation, sponsors of the event issued a joint statement, together with AARP and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, calling for five specific affordability protections for families as a crucial component of any successful health reform legislation.  Read the statement here.

Tony Garr, from the Tennessee Health Care Campaign and Community Catalyst, spoke about the need for strong affordability protections in a reformed health care system. “The responsibility on individuals to buy health coverage must come with a commitment to provide people with affordable health care choices,” said Garr.  “People need to know that the cost is reasonable and the benefits adequate.”

The rally included remarks from Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado, as well as testimonies from families, including Karen McManus from San Diego whose brother passed away last year because he could not afford the medication for he needed to control his high blood pressure and diabetes.  “My brother worked for an employer who did not provide health care,” said McManus. “He worked 50-60 hours a week but he made to much money to get government assistance but yet he could not afford his prescription. He paid the ultimate price for not having affordable health care, the price he paid was his life.”

Patrick Gusman, Chief Innovation Officer of the National Urban League, spoke at the event about the urgent need for health reform this year.  “The real story coming out of the August recess isn’t about the conflict in town hall meetings, but about the estimated 2,000 people who died during August either because they didn’t have health insurance, or – like many of us here – had insurance that didn’t cover the care they needed,” said Gusman.

The lobby day and rally came the day after PICO and Community Catalyst, together with faith allies including Faith in Public Life and Sojourners, organized a massive Congressional Call-in Day that generated over 20,000 calls to Congress.   Over the course of the lobby day, PICO and Community Catalyst met with over 100 offices of Members of Congress from 19 states.
Organizations sponsoring the Statement, Lobby Day and Rally include National Urban League (www.nul.org), American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (www.acscan.org), American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org), Community Catalyst (www.communitycatalyst.org), Consumers Union (www.consumersunion.org), Families USA (www.familiesusa.org), and PICO National Network (www.piconetwork.org).