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Letter to the Senate Urging Passage of the Reconciliation Package

March 23, 2010

Dear Senator:


On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association, we strongly urge you to VOTE YES on passage of H.R. 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010.  This package represents a critical and long overdue step toward ensuring quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans.  We urge the Senate to support a clean version of this package as passed by the House, with NO amendments.  Votes associated with this issue WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress. 

Health care reform will make health coverage more affordable to individuals and small businesses, hold insurance companies accountable, provide the security of coverage for the insured and uninsured, and bring down costs for everyone.  The health care reforms included in the reconciliation bill are vital to the nation's economic recovery and a crucial ingredient for great public schools for all students.  Ensuring quality, affordable health care for everyone in America is fundamental not only to our economic future but also critically important to our nation's children and their families. 

NEA members know firsthand that the lack of necessary medical and dental services for children and students of all ages creates a serious impediment to the learning process.  In addition, families with access to a regular source of medical care are more likely to keep the entire family healthy and create a better learning environment within the home.  Helping public schools attract and retain high-quality educators, along with secure, affordable health care benefits, play an important role in ensuring great public schools for all students.

We must act now to ensure that every person in America has quality, affordable health care coverage.  Not only is this a moral imperative, it is a key component of controlling spiraling health care costs.  We cannot afford to wait any longer.  The package must be enacted cleanly.  Any amendments will serve merely to prevent its ultimate passage. 

The reconciliation package also includes important student aid provisions that will make a real difference for many students struggling to afford postsecondary education.  Specifically, it will increase investment in Pell Grants to help more students afford postsecondary education without having to incur insurmountable loan debt.  It will also provide critical investments for community colleges to support their invaluable role in economic recovery.  These funds will be particularly important for unemployed workers looking to enhance their skills and prepare for new job opportunities.   Equally important is the relief these proposals provide to discretionary appropriations.  Failure to address the Pell Grant shortfall will decimate FY 2011 funding, since the shortfall will likely be covered by the education allocation, creating potentially dire consequences for other education programs. 

The Senate has the opportunity this week to make history.  We urge you to VOTE YES on a clean version of this landmark reconciliation package.

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson 
Director of Government Relations