$40 million health care campaign to launch in New York

ALBANY Today, here in Albany and in 52 other cities across the country, including 37 state capitals, a new national campaign is bringing together millions of Americans to demand quality, affordable health care for all. Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is being launched by 95 national and local groups that represent labor, community organizations, doctors, nurses, women, small businesses, faith-based organizations, people of color, netroots activists, and think tanks. HCAN is organizing to assure that the first order of business of the next President and Congress is to pass legislation in 2009 that guarantees quality, affordable health care for all. Health Care for America Now is an unprecedented coalition led by ACORN, AFSCME, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America's Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Center for Community Change, MoveOn, National Education Association (NEA), National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, SEIU, United Food and Commercial Workers, and USAction. "In 2009, we will either have a guarantee of quality, affordable health care we all can count on or we will continue to be at the mercy of the private health insurance industry that is charging us more, giving us less and putting company profits before our health," said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, an affiliate of USAction and one of the founding members of HCAN in New York State. "Here in New York State and in communities all across the country, we're asking one question, Which side are you on?' Are you on the side of quality, affordable health care? Or are you on the side of being left alone to fend for yourself in a complicated, bureaucratic insurance market?" Alan B. Lubin, Executive Vice President of New York State United Teachers, a union of 600,000 affiliated with both the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers nationally, said: "We are pleased to join this massive coalition representing decent hardworking citizens who demand quality affordable health care. Together we will accomplish more than any individual or organization can accomplish on its own." Starting today, the campaign is spending an initial $1.5 million on national television, print, and online advertising and is sending out an email blast to more than 5 million people. Over the next five months, Health Care for America Now plans to spend $25 million in paid media and have 100 organizers in 45 states. Health Care for America Now offers a bold new vision for health care reform. Americans can keep the private insurance they have, join a new private insurance plan, or choose a public health insurance plan. The campaign also calls for a government role in setting and enforcing rules on the insurance industry which consistently charges whatever it wants, sets high deductibles, denies coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and drops coverage when people get sick. "It makes absolutely no sense that with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, HIV/AIDS, cancer, STDs and more all on the rise that we in this country rich with resources do not provide healthcare for all," said Dr. L. Toni Lewis, a family practice and geriatric physician in Queens who serves as President of the Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU Healthcare. "Physicians are at the front lines of a losing battle without it. The time is now to correct this injustice." George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said that: "1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is proud to join this unprecedented national coalition effort for healthcare reform. Through inaction and wrong-headed policies, the Bush Administration has diminished health benefits for working Americans. Millions of Americans are uninsured, co-pays and deductibles are higher than ever and the number of procedures covered continues to shrink with each passing year. We are at a crossroads. Now more than ever, we must take action to ensure that every man, woman and child in this country has access to affordable, quality healthcare. Healthcare reform is an idea whose time has come." "Women who don't have access to preventive health care are at a substantially higher risk for undetected medical issues than their insured friends," said JoAnn M. Smith, President and CEO of Family Planning Advocates. "We cannot trust so-called reform proposals that rely more on private insurance, that tax our health benefits at work and force us to get health insurance on our own, proposals that give us a tax credit that pays for a fraction of actual health care costs, and proposals that don't regulate health insurance practices, premiums, or profits," said Scharff. We need health care reform that works for us." Health Care for America Now started with a financial commitment of at least $500,000 from each of the 13 steering committee members and a $10 million grant from NY-based Atlantic Philanthropies. HCAN (http://www.healthcareforamericanow.org/), a section 501(c)(4) issue advocacy organization, is a broad coalition of nonprofit and political organizations that are working to promote quality, affordable health care for all Americans. HCAN and each of its members conduct and fund only activities appropriate to its tax and election law status.

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