Health Care Reform Resolution

New York City, October 30, 2009 — The board of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the country’s professional organization of independent nonfiction writers, with membership of more than 1400, has released a resolution regarding healthcare reform, an issue looming large to nearly every member, most of whom are responsible for finding health insurance coverage on their own. Roadblocks to coverage for members include affordability and even whether or not they can find any coverage at all given the current restrictive guidelines regarding pre-existing conditions.

According to Alexandra Owens, executive director of ASJA, “This issue is one of critical importance to all Americans, but the self-employed suffer most when it comes to securing health insurance. Employer-based groups simply don’t make sense anymore as a way to deliver coverage, and as insurance premiums and unemployment rise more and more are left uninsured. Americans are becoming more mobile, working–or looking for work–all over the country, and a new approach to healthcare is desperately needed.”

ASJA has some insight into the problem, as its Writers’ Emergency Assistance Fund, a charitable fund that aids writers in times of need, has seen record numbers of writers apply for assistance due to medical catastrophes.

Resolution on Health Care Reform

American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)

WHEREAS, health insurance coverage is tied to employment, and America’s estimated 23 million self-employed, including most members of ASJA, must provide their own insurance, often at exorbitant cost, often having to accept policies that will not cover pre-existing conditions; and

WHEREAS, every person deserves access to affordable, quality health care; and

WHEREAS, the number of Americans without health insurance now exceeds 46 million, a figure that is growing as joblessness spreads; and

WHEREAS, many independent writers have expressed that rising healthcare cost are their #1 source of financial stress, and falling prey to disease without access to proper care is a main source of worry; and

WHEREAS, lack of coverage results in suffering and premature death, as illustrated in a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health which shows that nearly 45,000 deaths each year are linked to lack of health insurance; and

WHEREAS, millions of people with insurance – especially among the self-employed — have coverage so skimpy that a major illness would lead to financial ruin, and medical illness and bills contribute to 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies, according to a recent article in the American Journal of Medicine; and

WHEREAS, among the ranks of freelance writers, medical catastrophes have led record numbers to apply for assistance to the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund, the charitable arm of ASJA; and

WHEREAS, administrative waste consumes one-third of U.S. health spending, money that should be going toward patient care; and billions of dollars go to outrageous incomes for top healthcare industry executives and thereby directly diminishes the quality of care; and

WHEREAS, many of the bills presently emerging in Congress today are focusing on tweaking the system, rather than genuinely reforming it (with such measures as forcing people to buy health insurance from existing providers); and are sorely lacking in addressing the needs of the self-employed, such as ASJA’s members…

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Society of Journalists and Authors endorses REAL health care reform that considers all solutions, both market-based AND a government-run public option, and addresses the needs of self-employed workers for affordable medical services, including prescription drugs and dental care, emergency and long-term care; assures patients a free choice of doctors and hospitals; and contains costs by slashing bureaucracy, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that ASJA calls upon President Obama to endorse and for members of Congress to swiftly enact legislation that would embody these principles.