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Sep 9, 2009

Statement by Melanie L. Campbell on Health Care Reform

Following is the statment presented by Melanie L. Campbell during the press conference on Health Care Reform hosted by Congressional Black Caucus September 9, 20009.

CBC Press Conference on Health Care

It is my honor and pleasure to stand with the Congressional Black Caucus, the National Urban League, and my colleagues representing The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation's (The National Coalition) Black Women's Roundtable Intergenerational Public Policy Network in a show of solidarity and support for comprehensive health care reform and a call for quality health insurance for ALL Americans.

The National Coalition’s Black Women’s Roundtable believes quality healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. Healthcare is one of the highest priorities to ensure that all American families are able to reach their fullest potential.

While facilitating roundtable discussions with everyday women across the country, The National Coalition’s Black Women’s Roundtable has heard countless compelling stories highlighting the devastating consequences of being UN or UNDER-insured.

Women are often found on the short end of a burning stick in the current healthcare system: Women are more vulnerable to higher healthcare costs than men; often due to the fact that Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. These factors cause insurance companies to charge women higher premiums for the same plans as men.

The National Coalition’s Black Women’s Roundtable also believes quality healthcare levels the playing field for our children to be successful in their educational pursuits to become the next president, congressperson, doctor, teacher, civic leader or the medical researcher to find the cure for cancer.

We believe President Obama is correct in keeping his campaign promise by making healthcare reform a centerpiece of his Administration’s agenda. It is clear that our systems of care are badly in need of repair and these systems are even more damaged, where many Black women and girls live, work and attend school.

The National Coalition’s Black Women’s Roundtable encourages Congress to implement Health Insurance Reform that includes:

1. Ensuring that there is a “public option” for covering the millions of families without employment and that working people have access to adequate, affordable coverage through their employer regardless of size, and without fear that benefits will be taxed.

2. Expand funding and locations of Community Health Centers (CHCs). Community Health Centers have been a critical part of the health safety net for more than 40 years. Although woefully underfunded, CHCs have often been the only healthcare access in underserved rural and urban centers many of which have large Black populations. With adequate funding and infrastructure, CHCs will significantly reduce the health gap and increase employment opportunities where they are needed most.

3. Strengthen civil rights protections for health care by passing anti-discrimination health care policy and expanding health care discrimination enforcement staffing in the Office for Civil Rights.

4. Fully fund a coordinated HIV AIDS strategy that includes comprehensive efforts targeting African American women.

5. Take direct action against health inequities by establishing Health Empowerment Zones (HEZs) and increasing funding to Title VII and Title VIII programs.

The National Coalition’s Black Women's Roundtable is an intergenerational civic engagement and public policy network that promotes the involvement of African American women in policy discussions and works diligently to ensure that their priority issues are communicated to policy makers. Over the past few months the group recommended qualified African American women for White House appointments and Boards and Commissions, met with several members of the new administration and partnered with the National Newspaper Publishers Association to distribute the Black Women’s Roundtable "Whispering Out Loud Op-ed Series" to black newspapers nationwide. The editorials address critical issues that impact African American women, placing a special emphasis on what Black women need and expect from the new administration. For more information on The National Coalition visit

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