By Jerry Waxman
as submitted to the Huffington Post 10/22/09
Members of Health Care for America Now, a coalition of diverse civic groups and labor unions including AFSCME, SEIU, Alliance for Retired Americans, Jobs With Justice and other community organizations called on Representative Suzanne Kosmas’s (D. FL.) Orlando office on Tuesday at 12:00 PM and presented a letter urging that the Congresswoman endorse real Health Care Reform. The text of the letter reads:
“Dear Congresswoman Kosmas, the citizens present in your office today are asking for a commitment from you to endorse and vote for real Health Care Reform. The following Bullet points reflect the priorities of our coalition partners and should be included in all Health Care Reform legislation that is being considered.
- Public Option—This inclusion alone in any bill will guarantee Americans access to more affordable health insurance plans by creating competition. It will also drive quality improvements within the health care system.
- Do not allow health care benefits to be taxed. Taxing benefits could cause reductions in coverage and would penalize employers, workers and retirees.
- Allow 55 to 64 year old retirees to buy into Medicare at affordable premiums. Five million Americans in this age group need health care coverage right now!
- Close the Medicare donut hole. Seniors need a drug plan that works all year long.
- Eliminate Medicare Advantage overpayments. All Americans pay this overcharge, retired or not, Medicare Advantage members or not. It must be stopped to realize real savings to traditional Medicare.
Central Florida Health Care for America Now Coalition”
The congresswoman’s staff met in the office with members of the coalition and promised to forward the letter to Congresswoman in Washington D.C. Jennifer Kenny, an organizer with the Alliance for Retired Americans, acting as spokesperson for the group stated that it is imperative that congress pass real health care reform, including a strong public option, and that Congresswoman Kosmas has not been on record as a supporter. Others in the group agreed including Sarah Jones, a Volusia County civic activist who has been following Kosmas speeches and votes closely on the issue. Jones stated that “She (Kosmas) has never stated that she supports the public option in any of her speeches. She has only said that the bill would most likely pass.” All the assembled agreed that Kosmas has displayed a “lack of leadership” on this issue.
Kenny tried to make an appointment to see the Congresswoman in person and was told to get in touch with her scheduler in Washington. Once the meeting was over both Kenny and Jones gave interviews to the local press repeating the same statements about the state of health care and the need for Congresswoman Kosmas to get on board and support the public option. A video of the meeting is available here.
Afterwards, in the parking lot, Kenny said that she will keep on pushing Florida members of congress on these issues until the bill is passed. She then got in her car and headed for Sarasota where she was staging another event.
Kosmas’s position on Health Care Reform has created concern among area Democrats. According to HCAN her town hall meetings have been mostly over the phone and when she does meet with constituents it’s usually in a merchant association or chamber of commerce atmosphere. She recently interviewed with the editorial staff of the Orlando Sentinel and did not get high marks from them, and in August she addressed the monthly membership meeting of IUPAT, where she did her best to avoid talking about the public option.