Activists Head to Iowa to Press Grassley on Health Care

Posted August 11, 2009 at 2:06pm

Activists supporting the bipartisan Senate health care negotiations are set to descend on central Iowa on Wednesday to urge Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) to continue with the talks until a consensus is reached.Grassley, Iowa’s senior Senator and the ranking member on the Finance Committee, will hold four town-hall meetings on Wednesday. The discussion is expected to largely focus on President Barack Obama’s drive to overhaul health care.Divided We Fail, a coalition backed by AARP, the Business Roundtable, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Service Employees International Union, unveiled a letter Tuesday to Grassley and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) backing the bipartisan negotiations in their committee. The coalition said it would hand-deliver the letter to Grassley on Wednesday.“Senator Grassley, Chairman Baucus, and those on the Finance Committee still working toward bipartisan solutions on health reform should be applauded,— Pete Jeffries, Divided We Fail’s national campaign consultant, said in a statement. “While the August heat is getting pretty hot in the legislative kitchen, Divided We Fail wants these lawmakers to know more can be done at this critical stage and we stand ready to continue working with them to find meaningful solutions to deliver health reform this year.—In the letter, Divided We Fail writes: “It is time for bold and bipartisan solutions that all Americans can support to expand coverage and reduce health care costs. Payment changes, greater understanding of the costs and quality of the services, and ensuring that the health care system adopts 21st Century tools to become more efficient is a good start.—Grassley, who is up for re-election next year, is scheduled to hold town-hall meetings in Dallas, Guthrie, Madison and Union counties. AARP and Divided We Fail are planning to send volunteers and staff to all four events.Baucus and Grassley are leading a group of Finance negotiators that includes Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Republican Sens. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine). The Senators left town last week for the August recess but said they would continue their negotiations this month via videoconference and possibly an in-person meeting.Baucus has given the group a Sept. 15 deadline to reach a deal, after which he intends to pursue other options for moving a bill out of his committee. That deadline hits exactly one week after Congress returns from the August recess.Obama has asked that Congress send a bill to his desk by Oct. 15.