July 14, 2005

Senate Appropriations Committee FundsCitizens Health Care Working Group for 2006

$3 million will fund unprecedented approach to health care reformcreated by Wyden-Hatch Health Care that Works for All Americans law

Washington, DC The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved full funding for a continuing effort to break years of gridlock in American health care reform. The FY2006 Labor-HHS appropriations legislation includes $3 million for the Citizens Health Care Working Group created by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in their Health Care that Works for All Americans law. The Working Group is already holding hearings this summer and preparing to publish a guide this fall on how Americans health care dollars are spent today. That will be the first step in a health care reform effort that will seek the input of Americans who use the health care system; in 2006 the Working Group will report to the President and to Congress, where hearings on the peoples recommendations will be required by law.This Working Group will do something thats never been done in the history of health care reform: walk the American people through the costs and the tough choices of health care, and give the peoples guidance to Congress so that real reform can take place, said Wyden. Funding this unprecedented effort is an investment in the survival of Americas health care system, and in the well-being of every one of our citizens.The Working Groups goal is to bypass all the parochial interests and take this problem right to those who deal with these issues day in and day out, Hatch said. This funding will start a national discussion about what Americans like and dont like about the current system. Hopefully, when the process is finished, we will have a national consensus on how best to improve health care in America.The Health Report to the American People slated for release this fall will be made available nationwide, and in the following months every American will have the chance to weigh in online and at town hall meetings about whether they believe the current health care system and health care spending should be reformed and if so, how. Senators Wyden and Hatch expect legislation that reflects the American peoples choices to be introduced in Congress, and believe there will be enough grassroots support from the American people to push a health care reform initiative to the Presidents desk.For more information on the Citizens Working Group on Health Care and the hearings being held this summer, please visit their website at http://www.citizenshealth.ahrq.gov/index.html.More information on the Health Care that Works for All Americans law can be found at wyden.senate.gov or hatch.senate.gov.