Civil rights groups unite for health care

The nation's largest Latino, African American, student and civil rights organizations are joining forces in an effort to mobilize the country's communities of color, estimated at 100 million, toward a final push in support of universal health care reform.

The NAACP Voter Fund, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the Campaign for Community Change (CCC), the United States Student Association and PowerPAC.org said they plan to work together in order to ensure that the voices of people of color are heard as the health care debate enters a critical period in its final days.

"If we had enacted real health care reform in the past decade, then we would have saved the lives of 880,000 African Americans," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.

The coalition plans to release television and print ads in English and Spanish that will target four states with large Black and Latino populations - Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas. The ad campaign is part of a grassroots effort aimed at members of Congress to take note of how health care reform will impact communities of color.

In a press release Jealous continued, "The members of Congress in these states are out of touch with the voices of their constituents. Real people are going bankrupt, losing their homes and even dying for real health care reform in this country," he said.

According to the latest U.S. Census there are more than 100 million people of color living in the country, 33 percent of the population, the coalition says. They note in several key states, the percentage of people of color is higher, approaching 40 percent in Florida and Louisiana. These constituencies comprise the building blocks for a new majority that can reshape the policies and priorities of the country, they charge.

A recent report by Health Care for America Now finds that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to go without health care because they cannot afford it, are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor and that people of color have the highest rates of being uninsured.

NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía said, "The health care debate is an important one for all Americans but absolutely no one has more at stake than communities of color." She adds, "We need health care reform that embodies the highest and best values of our nation."

The groups are calling on Congress to implement a health care system that:
* includes a public option to compete with private insurance companies;
* covers all U.S. residents regardless of pre-existing condition or employment status;
* is comprehensive and affordable for everyone;
* ensure the highest quality of care for everyone.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR said, "Our organizations have been working tirelessly on health care reform all along. Now that it's crunch time, our collective efforts are critical to making sure that the reforms that become law enable everyone, including communities of color, to have access to affordable, quality health care," he said.

Executive Director Deepak Bhargava with CCC adds, "We believe health care is a basic human right, as essential as food and shelter. No one should have to go without health care because of a lack of income," he said.

The ads can be viewed online at www.healthequityforall.org.

 

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