More than 80 leaders in business, labor, and civil society met yesterday for the Better Health Care Together Strategy Summit in New York. Better Health Care Together, a coalition of businesses, labor organizations, and thought leaders including the Center for American Progress, Wal-Mart, AT&T, and the Service Employees International Union, formed an unlikely partnership in February with the goal of bringing individuals, business, and government together to reach the goal of achieving health reform by 2012.
Yesterday’s meeting brought six new members into the coalition: Embarq Corporation, General Mills, Maersk Line, Manpower Inc., Qwest Communications International Inc., and RR Donnelly. The coalition focuses its efforts for a reformed health care system around four common sense principles:
- Every person in America must have quality, affordable health insurance coverage.
- Individuals have a responsibility to maintain and protect their health.
- America must dramatically improve the value it receives for every health care dollar.
- Businesses, governments, and individuals all should contribute to managing and financing a new American health care system.
At the meeting yesterday, Gov. Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California addressed the coalition and guests. Both governors discussed the need for broad national reform and the need for leadership in order to achieve this goal.
“How can we ignore the fact that more than 46 million Americans—900,000 of them in Pennsylvania—are uninsured?” asked Gov. Rendell. “Addressing the health care crisis is one issue that can’t wait—the cost of inaction is far too great in terms of individual health consequences and the increasing burden on taxpayers.”
Gov. Schwarzenegger bolstered the sentiments that the time is ripe for action, saying, “We are ready for action right now on health care. So we must work together to encourage the stakeholders who want to join us, and talk to those who don’t, about why we need reform. Comprehensive health care reform is too important to every single American for any of us to sit on the sidelines. We all need to make our voices heard…”
To amplify commitment to this issue, the coalition announced a set of activities designed to achieve meaningful reform by 2012. The activities include:
- Recruiting additional selected business, labor, and civil leaders committed to making health care reform a reality.
- Enlisting support for the principles from national, state, and local elected officials, policymakers, candidates, and opinion leaders.
- Launching education initiatives to persuade workers and customers that the current health care system should be reformed to reflect the Better Health Care Together principles.
Better Health Care Together is the first coalition that brings business, labor, and civil society together in one place and is therefore in a unique position to generate the political climate necessary for broad-based health reform. Families and businesses are straining under the cost of health care, and the American public is looking for solutions.
“This coalition reflects the national consensus behind the need for comprehensive health care reform,” said John Podesta, President and CEO at the Center for American Progress. “Public pressure should be brought to bear upon the presidential candidates so a commitment to universal coverage is the price of admission to the White House.”
For more information on the Center for American Progress’ health care policies, please see:
- Achieving Affordable Coverage for All
- The Wellness Trust
- Progressive Prescriptions for a Health America
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