New Health Care Advocacy Group Launches Campaign

Some grassroots organizations want to make sure health care is not lost in the national debate leading up to the presidential election. ACORN and unions are some of those participating in a 40 million dollar health care campaign. Capella Tucker reports.

Health Care for America Now launched its campaign in Texas and other states across the country.  The health reform group will begin with a one-and-a-half million dollar advertising campaign.    In Texas, advocates say the message is that the insurance industry can’t be trusted.  Daniel Goldberg works on health care ethics and hospital and insurance litigation.  He says health care reform needs to be tackled the same way as homeland security — that is a public-private partnership.

“It’s an interaction between government sponsorship and private actors.  And the idea, I don’t have any idea why we don’t think health care is just as similar to national security in that regard.” 

The campaign supports a plan that would give people a choice among public or private plans or keeping what they currently have.  The campaign also calls for the government to take a role in setting and enforcing rules on the insurance industry. 

“There’s got to be some kind of single-payer system, whether it involves a public and private partnership, that’s fine.  I’m not at all adverse to the idea to having private involvement in the dispensation of health care, they just can’t be relied upon to government it completely which is what we’ve done as a society, we’ve basically abdicated that responsibility.” 

Groups that are part of the coalition include MoveOn, Planned Parenthood and the Service Employees International Union.

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate and Senator John Edwards, has been chosen as the national face of the campaign.  She has cancer and has made health care her main issue since her husband dropped out of the Democratic presidential race earlier this year. 

The National Education Association and the Texas State Teachers Association are also a part of the new advocacy group.  Mary Ann Reuter says health care is a concern because it interferes with their mission of quality education.  She says the lack of quality insurance deters people from becoming teachers and it makes it difficult to retain people.

“Without insurance parents are less likely to take their children to preventive medical care.  Kids without insurance are more likely to be sick longer and miss more school.”

Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country.  One in four has no health care coverage according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Capella Tucker, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.