NLC Adopts Comprehensive Health Care Reform Policy

Article excerpt

At the Congress of Cities in Charlotte, N.C., NLC delegates adopted a comprehensive health care reform policy.

This policy will be incorporated into NLC's National Municipal Policy, which will allow NLC to have a strong voice in the debate on how the federal government should reduce rising health care costs.

The comprehensive recommendations were developed by the NLC Working Group of Health Care, chaired by Michael Kasperzak, council member, Mountain View, Calif.

The working group included mayors, council members and administrators from the Human Development (HD) and Finance Administration and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) policy and advocacy committees, NLC risk pool administrators and state league administrators.

"Because of the importance of this issue to city governments whose budgets are being impacted by escalating health care costs to cover their employees, depend ents and retirees, this was a full NLC effort," said Kasperzak.

The working group members completed their recommendations in August 2005. Throughout the fall, the recommendations were then reviewed by the HD and FAIR steering committees, the state league steering committee, and the NLC-RISC Board. They were slightly modified, then approved by each NLC group.

Spearheaded by HD Steering Committee Chair Rosa Ferraro Santana, alderwoman from New Haven, Conn., the recommendations worked their way through the rest of the NLC policy process.

"We are very proud of the work accomplished by the Working Group on Health Care and of our partnership with critical groups throughout NLC," Kasperzak said.

Santana mirrored Kasperzak's statements, saying, "Everyone has told us that Congress is not going to pass comprehensive health care legislation unless we, the stakeholders, force them to do it. So the HD Committee spent hours going over the details of these recommendations These are important recommendations for our city leaders and for our residents."

Summary of Recommendations

The new NLC policy recommendations urge the federal government to make comprehensive, systemic health care reform. This focus is the most critical part of the policy because, up until now, Congress has only been debating patchwork solutions, such as Health Savings Accounts or Association Health Plans.

The reforms must affect all areas of the health care system to be effective: consumers, medical providers and hospitals, drug manufacturers, and insurers. …