ALA Calls for ‘Public Option’ in Health Care Reform

Contact: Jenni Terry

Press Officer

ALA Washington Office


703-380-2764 (cell)

For Immediate Release

August 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) today sent a
letter to all members of Congress, voicing its support for including a “public option” in health care reform legislation.

The association, which represents over 65,000 members, also supports a “single-payer” option and believes removing public options, including potential cooperative arrangements, from the final legislation would not accomplish the strong reform needed.

“Without a ‘single-payer’ provision, ALA is even more committed to retaining a ‘public option’ as reform legislation moves forward,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said. “Like every segment of our society, our nation’s library budgets are being outpaced and even consumed with increasing costs of health care. With the vast majority of librarians and library workers employed in the public sector, the rising cost of providing health insurance has placed enormous burdens on state and local governments. This makes it increasingly difficult for them to adequately fund libraries – and threatens our ability to serve the public.”

Sheketoff said the association has previously informed Congress of its support of health care reforms and is calling upon Congress again to pass significant legislation that will ensure health care is available to all.

An ALA resolution passed at the association’s July 2009 Annual Conference in Chicago states, “The ever-increasing expense of health care benefits continues to inhibit the ability of libraries to create career opportunities for librarians and library workers, stunts improvements in wages and thereby threatens the future of our profession and our libraries.”

“Libraries must be able to offer affordable and comprehensive health care insurance to assure healthy employees, to manage library budgets and to promote healthy communities that our libraries serve. We need a public option to make this happen,” Sheketoff said.