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Sep 9, 2009

Atlanta Press Conference on Health Care Reform

Atlanta Press Conference on Health Care

Atlanta, GA - As national civil rights, labor and social justice advocates gathered at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, local leaders stood in solidarity today at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta to express widespread support for true reform that provides access to quality health care for all Americans.

The Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda - led by Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, The Atlanta Urban League, The Environmental Justice Resource Center, the Black Women's Roundtable and other coalition partners gathered at the Georgia Capitol. Those at the U.S. Capitol to discuss maintaining key priorities in America’s Affordable Health Choices Act included Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and National Coalition on Black Civic Participation executive director, Melanie L. Campbell.

Dr. Joseph Lowery, convener of the Peoples’ Agenda, said, “Our current health care system delivers high quality care for those privileged enough to have comprehensive coverage, but millions of hard working Americans cannot afford insurance. While escalating health care costs also compromise the competitiveness of American businesses, not providing health care for all Americans compromises the competitiveness of America. If you listen closely it is clear that the vast majority of voters want reform,” added Lowery.

Providing health care for those that cannot afford expensive insurance premiums has been a high priority for most of the member organizations of the Peoples Agenda. The coalition believes that health care for all is a “social, economic, and moral imperative for America,” said the Peoples’ Agenda executive director Helen Butler.

The group maintains that in additional to covering those without insurance, holding insurance companies accountable, closing the gap in health disparities, and increasing the focus on prevention are also high priorities on the list of desired outcomes for reform. There is also widespread support for a public option as the best approach to reducing costs for all policy holders, according to members of the Peoples’ Agenda.

“I don’t think people are thinking things through holistically. We all pay and it costs more to limit access for the uninsured to our emergency rooms. With a potentially deadly virus on the horizon it should be easy to see how important it is for every American to have health coverage.” adds Butler.

The National Urban League’s Atlanta office reinforced the message delivered in Washington, “We are proud to stand up for health care reform and to help demonstrate that all across the country there is support for reforming our health care system,” said vice president of Atlanta Urban League, Dexter Odum.

“We are all concerned about the economy, jobs, and the national debt and we definitely need a healthy workforce to solve these increasingly complex problems,” said Georgia State Representative and GABEO President Tyrone Brooks a host for the press conference. “Together we represent thousands working on issues from homelessness, criminal justice, environmental justice and so many more and we are absolutely united in our support for health care reform as one of our nation’s highest priorities.”

“African Americans are twice as likely to be uninsured, most Black women make less than $30,000 per year, heart disease, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and cancer are major health issues, we are twice as likely to have diabetes a condition that is often preventable,” said Felicia Davis, Georgia representative for the National Coalition’s Black Women’s Roundtable, “Our motto is healthy, wealthy, and wise for us health care reform is an absolute necessity.”

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