Today, over 20 youth organizations representing millions of young people sent the following letter to Congress urging swift passage of health care reform and student aid through the reconciliation package.
To the Members of the United States Congress,
Over the last year, we've heard a lot of words tossed around to describe the process and purpose of passing comprehensive health care reform. Yet as we enter the final stage of this great debate, the only word that matters, the one we urge you to reflect on is this:
Fundamentally, that is what reform is about; it is what the bill soon to be before you will provide. This bill represents real, meaningful reform for millions of young Americans struggling to obtain health coverage and to afford a college education. This bill is a concrete step toward the change that we seek; it is, in fact, the most important piece of legislation for young Americans in recent history.
Comprehensive health care reform will help 31 million uninsured Americans, including well over 10 million from the millennial generation. It will ensure that young people, many facing decades of financial struggle and debt in today's economy, can, if needed, stay on their parents' health plans until age 26. It also ends the long-standing insurance industry practice of denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and provides subsidies and extends Medicaid coverage to millions of Americans, a disproportionate number of whom are young adults.
Now, health care reform has been paired with student loan reform and expansion of the Pell grant. These provisions will end wasteful government subsidies to banks and invest tens of billions of savings to help young people afford a college education and to strengthen our schools. All of this can be achieved while reducing the deficit.
Because of an existing shortfall in the Pell grant program, failing to pass the student aid package through reconciliation would result in 500,000 low and middle income students losing their Pell grants, and roughly eight million students seeing their awards cut by 60%. Unless you act, we are headed toward a society where family wealth would be the overwhelming factor in determining whether or not a young person can attend college.
For ordinary Americans, and certainly for our generation, the stakes in this debate couldn't be higher. Unlike the CEOs of insurance companies and loan companies who have dispatched armies of lobbyists to your offices, the position you take on reform impacts far more than our profit margins; it impacts our lives.
Opponents of reform suggest that we want a handout, when all we want is an opportunity. They insist that we're advocating for big government, when we really just want a government that works. They have spent millions trying to prevent progress, but their money cannot buy the truth or negate the millions of votes cast by young people in 2008. This bill exemplifies the change that we voted for, change that you now have the chance to deliver.
Our organizations represent millions of young people, from a wide range of backgrounds, but all seeking a fair chance to succeed and build a better future. Acting decisively is what you have been elected to do: meet this historical moment by helping those who are counting on you.
A vote against this bill is a vote against the future health, education, hopes and dreams of our generation.
Don't let us down. Don't turn your backs on our futures. Don't vote against us.
American Medical Student Association
Black Youth Vote
California Young Democrats
Campaign for America's Future
Campaign for Community Change
Campus Camp Wellstone
College Democrats of America
The DNC Youth Council
Rock the Vote
Roosevelt Institute Campus Network
Student Association for Voter Empowerment
Young Democrats of America
Young People First
Young People for Action
United States Public Interest Research Group
United States Student Association