Washington, DC and Boston, MA – In advance of today’s highly anticipated Senate Finance Committee Roundtable on Increasing Access to Health Coverage, Community Catalyst and PICO National Network released two issue briefs that explain why the success of health care reform depends on the adoption of a strong, common sense Affordability Standard that limits out-of-pocket health care costs to levels that families at different income levels can afford.

Based on state efforts to expand health coverage, the briefs argue for a sliding scale Affordability Standard that provides comprehensive benefits and protects lower-income families from high premiums and middle-income families from unlimited health care costs. The scale would take into consideration all out-of-pocket costs, and would be clear and easy to calculate and administer.

“The number one reason people lack health coverage or don’t get the treatment they need is that they cannot afford it,” said Robert Restuccia, Executive Director of Community Catalyst. “To be successful, health reform must not only cover the uninsured but also must help families that have coverage and are increasingly finding it impossible to keep up with rising premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.”

“As a pastor, I see how crucial it is for families in my community to have truly affordable, quality health insurance choices, especially if all Americans are going to be required to have health coverage,” said Rev. Cory Sparks, a clergy spokesperson from PICO National Network.  “It’s also essential to controlling long-term health care costs.”

The two issue briefs are:

“The Importance of Establishing a Common Sense Health Care Affordability Standard for Individuals and Families” and “Individual Mandates: Critical Consumer Protections”

PICO National Network is a national network of faith-based community organizations working to expand health care coverage and improve communities in 17 states. www.piconetwork.org

Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system. www.communitycatalyst.org

Together, Community Catalyst and PICO are working to make sure that consumers have a strong voice in the debate over comprehensive health care reform.