A diverse group of leaders joined together in the Massachusetts State House today to deliver one message to the state’s delegation: National health care reform is anything but a raw deal for Massachusetts.

The 16 speakers representing faith groups, advocates, consumers, small business, providers, insurers, labor, immigrants, seniors and government called for Congress to move forward on comprehensive reform now. And they asked the Massachusetts delegation especially to support their constituents by voting yes on national reform.

“This is the social justice issue of our lifetime,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, leader of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. He added that the state’s 2006 health care reform had expanded coverage to hundreds of thousands of individuals, and he hoped for the passage of national reform to help “continue gains in Massachusetts.”

Even while the state’s reforms have helped insure 97 percent of residents, gaps persist, said Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, a health advocacy organization (and Community Catalyst’s sister organization). “Too many people still can’t afford coverage. We need to work to close that gap.”

National reform would accomplish that by offering subsidies to 75,000 middle class families to help them afford quality insurance. Reform would also support businesses that now struggle to offer health care to their employees.

“For my business to grow and thrive, we need healthy workers,” said Phil Edmundson, CEO of William Gallagher Associates. “National health reform would provide tax credits to help small businesses offer coverage, allowing them to create jobs and grow our economy. An estimated 70,000 small firms in Massachusetts would benefit, and our economy and health would improve.”

Speaker after speaker emphasized that reform at the national level would not only provide more state residents with affordable care and help fund Massachusetts’ own reform, but it would also improve health care across the country and give those in other states the quality coverage and opportunities that Massachusetts now enjoys.

“The physicians of the Commonwealth not only support the pioneering effort here in Massachusetts, but we know that it’s going to lead to national health reform that will improve the quality and safety of care,” said Dr. Jack Evjy of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “National reform will further expand coverage so that we’re taking care of all of our sick people, and that’s an important thing for America.”

The state’s health secretary, Dr. Judy Ann Bigby, called on the Massachusetts delegation to do what’s best for Massachusetts – and for the country as a whole – by voting for national health care reform, just as they supported the state’s successful reform four years ago.

“Health care is a right, not a commodity,” she said. “It’s time the richest country in the world provided health care to everybody in the United States.”

See videos of the event from Health Care For All: http://www.youtube.com/user/HCFAMA

-Elizabeth Ress, Health Policy Hub