Tri-Caucus to Unveil Own Health Care Plan

Posted June 9, 2009 at 12:59pm

Leaders of the Congressional Tri-Caucus spent Tuesday hyping their soon-to-be unveiled health care reform plan that they hope will compete with the proposal being drafted by top Democrats.

But they conceded that some of their ideas are already being included in the package being put together by Democratic leaders, and they said they aren’t prepared to unite in opposition to that bill.

The bill being introduced later this week by the Tri-Caucus — which includes the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus — focuses on the need to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

Other demands by the group include a public health option, strengthening the Office of Minority Health within the Department of Health and Human Services, and addressing cultural and linguistic concerns such as credentialing for medical translators.

“The Congressional Tri-Caucus stands together and speaks with one voice to demand health care reform now, and to demand an end to the factors that perpetuate racial and ethnic health disparities in this country,— CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the CHC Health and Environment Task Force, said leaders of the three caucuses have already been in discussions with Senate counterparts and aim to have a Senate sponsor for their bill.

But they also said they have been very involved in the bill being put together by Democratic leaders.

Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), co-chairwoman of the CBC Health and Wellness Task Force, said leadership has already accepted a Tri-Caucus provision calling for more diversity in community health centers.

“I can pretty much say they’ve made a commitment to increasing diversity in that work force as well and there are probably some other provisions,— Christensen said.

Asked if Tri-Caucus members would unite against leadership’s bill if it doesn’t include their key priorities, lawmakers backed down.

“I don’t think we’re at that point yet, and any discussions that we have, there seems to be a real recognition and acceptance of the fact that the elimination of health disparities is important to reaching the goal of a good, you know, health care plan,— Roybal-Allard said. “We’re very hopeful. We haven’t had any indication that the key provisions that we are asking for are not even being considered.

CAPAC Chairman Mike Honda (D-Calif.) warned, however, that if the final health care plan doesn’t include a public health option, “there will be a lot of resistance.—