At this critical time in health care reform, the Senate has brought a single bill to the floor for debate and will be deciding what amendments to make in the weeks ahead. While there is much in the current proposals that we support, other provisions threaten to undermine the effectiveness and sustainability of health care reform long term. The changes made in the bill over the weeks ahead will determine whether the Senate leads the nation toward health care reform done the right way or the wrong way.

We know that cost and affordability are the most critical elements of getting health care reform done the right way. A growing number of public policy experts are making similar arguments, and you may be interested in reading recent articles on this subject from Jim Capretta, Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the blog page of Robert Laszewski at Health Policy and Strategy Associates.

There is no more critical time to let your Senators know what you think about the Senate bill than right now. You can do that quickly and effectively by reaching out to your Senators by phone.

I know this requires more time than does sending e-mail, so we are making it as simple as possible to call your Senators’ offices with the help of an easy-to-use online tool and messages for you to consider.

I encourage you to call your Senators as soon as possible, at work or at home, through a tool called Speak Out. All you have to do is click on the link, fill in a little information on the screen, and then click “Make a Call!” Within minutes you will get a call at the number you listed. When you pick up, you will be patched through to your Senator’s office.

Here’s what you can expect to happen at this point. A staff assistant will likely answer the phone. Ask to speak with the legislative assistant who works on health care policy. One of the following scenarios will occur:

  1. The staff assistant may say that the legislative aid is unavailable and offer to take your message. State who you are, and then make your key points.
  2. The staff assistant will forward you to the desk of the health care legislative assistant. If he/she does not answer, leave a detailed voice message stating who you are and your key points.
  3. If you are able to reach the legislative assistant, introduce yourself as a constituent, state your name, your company and that you would like your Senator to support workable health care reform that builds on the current employer-based system and allows people to keep their coverage.

Important Messages to Deliver to Your Senator:
The following message points are important to the Senate floor debate. Please include all that you are comfortable addressing:

  • Senate legislation under consideration right now does not do enough to address the underlying costs of health care services, the real driver of rising health insurance premiums. To improve the affordability of health coverage, we must address rising costs.
  •  In fact, as currently written, the Senate bill seeks increased taxes on health plans, employers and others that will further drive up costs and negatively impact jobs.

 I very much hope that you will work to make improvements in the bill so that we can get health care reform done right. This means:

  •  A strong focus on affordability, recognizing that health insurance premiums are driven by the underlying cost of health care services, devices and pharmaceuticals, not the cost of insurance.
  • A strong individual coverage requirement with financial help for people who can’t afford to buy health insurance so that we do not drive up the cost of private insurance for everyone else as we seek to cover more Americans.
  • Payment system reform rewarding providers for quality, not quantity, and providing incentives to providers who help their patients better manage their health conditions.
  • Public/private partnerships that spur investment in innovation and technology, streamlining the health care delivery system.

Remember that you are a voter, and your Senator values your opinion. You can expect the staff to be courteous to you, and you, in turn, need to be polite. Your points are more likely to be heard when you address the staff with respect.

Thank you for considering this request. The health care reform process is really boiling down to what happens in the next several weeks. Your help could be critical in determining the outcome, so please Speak Out!

Source: See Aetna’s work to transform Health Care in America. Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies. Those companies include Aetna Health Inc., and Aetna Health Insurance Company, 151 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06156