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HEALTH CARE JUSTICE NOW: U2K UPDATE

Newsletter of the Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign (U2K)

July 15, 2000 (Issue no. 12)

IN THIS ISSUE:
1. U2K Builds Strength to Ask Candidates: Do You Support Universal Health Care?
2. U2K Activists Meeting with Universal Health Care Task Force on Capitol Hill
3. Updates: U2K State and National Endorsers
4. Faith Groups Called to Help Educate for Health Care Justice
5. How to Work with Providers and Public Health Groups in Your Community
6. Contact Us

Introduction

The U2K Campaign was founded in October 1999 by the Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN!), the Gray Panthers and the National Council of Churches (NCC).  Since then, the U2K Campaign has grown to include over 350 endorsing organizations, and thousands of individuals.  The goal of the U2K Campaign is to achieve, through a democratic process, a national guarantee of comprehensive, affordable, accessible, quality and publicly accountable health care for all.  In its first year, the U2K Campaign seeks to build a strong, broad base of support for the issue of universal health care, and to raise this as a major issue in the upcoming 2000 elections.  If you are receiving this newsletter for the first time and your organization has not yet endorsed the campaign, we hope you will join us in building a nationwide, grassroots movement for universal health care.

Health Care Justice NOW is a bi-monthly fax/email newsletter.  It aims to keep endorsers and  supporters of the Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign informed and engaged.  Health Care Justice NOW is also an outreach tool, so please distribute it widely, and encourage other groups to subscribe through contacting us.  There are over 1200 individuals and organizations that subscribe to Health Care Justice NOW.  (To unsubscribe, email us at uhcan@uhcan.org.)  Past issues of the newsletter (as well as basic U2K Campaign materials) are available at www.u2kcampaign.org.

1. U2K BUILDS STRENGTH TO ASK CANDIDATES: DO YOU SUPPORT UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE?


U2K Campaign leaders and activists held a successful strategy meeting in Washington DC on June 13.  Representatives from 12 states and over a dozen national organizations, including the National Council of Churches, the Gray Panthers, the Universal Health Care Action Network, Families USA, USAction, Summit Health Coalition, the National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers, Public Campaign, the National Medical Association, the United Church of Christ and the Catholic Health Association were present.

The meeting helped to build consensus around the strategy that the campaign should spend now until Labor Day developing a strong and broad base of organizations committed to universal health care.  A goal was also set of helping U2K State Coordinators link up with affiliates of national endorsers (see article below) and linking U2K to other health care justice struggles, such as prescription drug coverage and patients¹ rights.

From Labor Day until Election Day, the U2K Campaign will encourage groups across the country to plan activities to engage candidates for Congressional and state offices on the issue of universal health care.  In Illinois, for example, the Campaign for Better Health Care has launched the Illinois Universal Health Care Campaign, or IU2K, and will hold candidate forums in every state and Congressional district.

The U2K Campaign will develop materials to assist activists in candidate engagement, including candidate questions, a candidate pledge, information about participation in the Universal Health Care Week (see below), on how to information for candidate engagement, materials for a postcard campaign and religious community study materials.  The U2K Campaign Elections Handbook will be available by Labor Day 2000.

2. U2K Activists Meet With Universal Health Care Task Force on Capitol Hill

On June 14, a dozen U2K leaders attended a meeting with aides from the offices of 16 Congresspeople participating in the new Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force.  Congressional aides were present from the offices of Representatives John Conyers (D, MI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D, TX), Bernie Sanders (I, VT), Janice Shakowsky (D, IL), Patrick Kennedy (D, RI), Maxine Waters (D, CA), Jesse Jackson (D, IL), Henry Waxman (D, CA), John Tierney (D, MA), Robert Wexler (D, FL), Michael Forbes (D, NY), Jerry Kleczka (D, WI), Gregory Meeks (D, NY), Eva Clayton (D, NC), Barbara Lee (D, CA), Bobby Scott (D, VA), Carolyn McCarthy (D, NY) and Earl Hilliard (D, AL).  U2K Campaign Coordinators will set up a liaison group with the task force to distribute legislative alerts on health care issues in Congress, communicate with constituents and raise the issue of universal health care with the public and elected officials.  For info about the liaison group, contact Mark Hannay, Metro NY Health Care for All Campaign (212/964-3534, <metrohealth@igc.org>).  For info about the task force, contact Joel Segal, health aide with Rep. John Conyers (D, MI) (joel.segal@mail.house.gov, 202/225-5126).

3. U2K UPDATE: STATE AND NATIONAL ENDORSERS, AND PARALLEL CAMPAIGNS

MO * Missourians for Single Payer Health Care (MoSP) and other groups recently joined with Public Citizen in fighting for affordable prescription drug coverage.  Activists demanded to know whether Senator Ashcroft (R, MO), who has balked at lowering drug prices, supports affordable prescription drug coverage for seniors.  "We presented Ashcroft¹s chief of staff with a big pink styrofoam pill," says Anne Steele, MoSP Chair, "and told him he was offering us a placebo, instead of the real thing.  We were promised a meeting."  So far, Ashcroft has not followed through, so Missouri activists are turning up the heat.  MoSP are also planning two candidate forums on health issues in the fall.

MS * The Mississippi Human Services Coalition has been hard at work.  The Coalition is developing better outreach to enroll kids in the Children¹s Health Insurance Program, and advocating that Mississippi¹s share of the tobacco settlement money be used to expand Medicaid coverage for working families.  They are also working to enable seniors to stay out of nursing homes through providing more home and community-based services. 

PA * The Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care of Philadelphia is planning a rally and march for universal health care on July 29 at the Republican Convention.  U2K activists are urged to attend.  Visit the web site, <www.phillyhealth.org> or <www.r2kphilly.org> for info.

TN * The Tennessee Health Care Campaign has been defending and strengthening the TennCare program, TN¹s Medicaid and Children¹s Health Insurance Program. TennCare for Children, a project of the Campaign, is working to ensure that all eligible children are enrolled in TennCare. Director Tony Garr says health care advocates should fight for safeguarding and expansion of CHIP. "CHIP allows a great deal of flexibility to the states, and there are lots of variation in coverage," admits Garr, citing weaknesses of the program. "In Tennessee, we are working for universal access to affordable health insurance for all children.  States have the ability to expand coverage to working parents, and some have.  The radical right wants to dismantle CHIP. Health care advocates have the chance to work to solidify it and make it a landmark federal program Congress won¹t touch." Contact Tony, <tgarr@thcc2.org> or 615/227-7500.

TX * The Gray Panthers of Austin are planning a forum on September 9 linking the need for campaign finance reform to the struggle for universal health care.  "You¹ll never change health care unless you change our system of campaign finance," says Charlotte Flynn, citing the large amounts of campaign cash that flow from the health care industry and handcuff Congresspeople to special interests. The Gray Panthers of Austin are also working to expose the "astroturf" scare tactics of the pharmaceutical companies, who often send out direct mail appeals for small donations to seniors. The Gray Panthers of Austin sent out a letter to their grassroots membership exposing these tactics and asking for small donations not to the pharmaceutical companies ­ but to support universal health care.  Charlotte and the group plan to approach both political parties on the issue in the fall: "The disease afflicting our health care system isn¹t Democrat or Republican."

WI * "We don¹t do rocking chairs or bake sales," says Marjorie Colson of the Coalition for Wisconsin Health.  ONuff said.  The Coalition is introducing a bill into their legislature that would create a cabinet to write a plan that would provide health care for all in Wisconsin.

NATIONAL U2K ENDORSERS

* Families USA is working on several issues in the elections, including ensuring a strong Patients¹ Bill of Rights, safeguarding and strengthening Medicare and enacting a strong and affordable prescription drugs benefit. The Families USA web site is an excellent source of information for health care advocates, where recent reports are posted.  Jeff Kirsch, 202/628-3030, <jkirsch@familiesusa.org>, <www.familiesusa.org>

* Justice for All (JFA), a national disabilities advocacy organization, recently joined the U2K Campaign.  JFA distributes an informative email newsletter.  U2K encourages you to work with disabilities advocacy groups in your state.  People with disabilities face many barriers to health care, including lack of access to comprehensive care for people with pre-existing conditions and lack of community and home-based services for people with physical disabilities.  To join the JFA network, email <jfa@jfanow.org>. Visit the web site at <www.jfanow.org>.

* The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation¹s largest health care union (675,000 members), has been working with Senator Paul Wellstone (D, MN) to introduce the American Health Security Plan.  If enacted, the bill would assure access to secure, affordable health care for all Americans by the year 2005.  U2K will provide more info on this bill when introduced into Congress later this summer.  Want to link up with SEIU district councils in your state?  Contact Carol Regan, Health Policy Analyst, 202/898-3200, <cregan@seiu.org>.  Or visit SEIU¹s web site at <www.seiu.org>.

* The National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers (NCMHPC), a coalition of over 1,000 members, is working for mental health parity, patient protection legislation including provisions to ensure medical privacy, and universal health care. NCMHPC is developing a tool kit to raise mental health parity issues in the elections.  For info, to receive a tool kit or link up with mental health advocates in your state, contact 888/SAY-NO-MC, <NCMHPC@aol.com> or visit the web site, <www.nomanagedcare.org>.

PARALLEL CAMPAIGNS & GROUPS

* The Labor Party, a national political party for working people, has chapters in over 20 states.  The Labor Party initiated the "Just Health Care Campaign" for a single payer, Canadian-style health care system in the U.S. Labor Party chapters are collecting signatures for a Committee of a Million, to demonstrate that Americans support single-payer.  For contacts, visit the web site,  <www.igc.apc.org/lpa> or call the office, 202/234-5190.

* Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) provides resources on our health care system and what¹s wrong with it.  The PNHP slide show (available as text) is a great advocacy tool.  For info or to link up with PNHP activists, 312/554-0382 or <pnhp@aol.com>.  Or visit the web site at <www.pnhp.com>.

4. FAITH GROUPS CALLED TO EDUCATE FOR HEALTH CARE JUSTICE

Recognizing that understanding the crisis and its possible solutions is a key component to the success of social reform, faith groups can take the lead in educating for health care justice.  Adult education classes, seminars, forum events and lecture series are among the activities which could quite naturally fall within the programmatic life of most communities of faith.  As the fall season approaches, religious groups are encouraged to plan such events for both their own membership and for the wider community. If not able to sponsor such events themselves, faith groups might consider making their facilities available for such efforts led by health care justice groups.

The U2K Campaign can help provide resources for this purpose.  Materials are available to assist faith communities in their efforts to understand the struggle for health care justice within the context of their scriptures. Workshop outlines which deal more specifically with the current health care crisis also are available. In addition, clergy, medical professionals, health care justice activists and political leaders all over the country are eager to widely spread the message about the reform that is needed.

Take the first step! Contact the leadership in your faith group today to make plans for fall! 

Faith Communities Organizing Packet Now Available

A packet of study, worship and organizing resources for faith communities is available.  Materials include Bible study and workshop outlines, tips for working with religious leaders, recent health policy statements from religious groups and more.  Contact the office  for your copy.

Worship Services to Help Highlight Universal Health Care Week

Beginning with Sabbath services on Friday, Oct. 13, and continuing through services on Sunday, Oct. 22, communities of faith are invited to include a focus on health care for all in their liturgies.  Through acts of prayer and proclamation, people of faith will be joined in their  witness to the immorality of our current health care system and calls to compassion and justice found in the teachings of every faith group.  To assist with this effort, resources are available from the office.

Visit the faith communities portion of the U2K web site
(www.u2kcampaign.org/faith) or contact Faith Communities Coordinator Linda Walling for assistance in planning your educational effort or worship service.  Contact Linda at 216/751-2440 or <u2kwalling@aol.com>.

5. HOW TO WORK WITH PROVIDERS AND PUBLIC HEALTH GROUPS IN YOUR COMMUNITY


You may have heard of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the American Public Health Association (APHA), National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) and the National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers (NCMHPC).  What do these four health care provider groups have in common?  This year, these organizations have chosen to work for universal health care.

"Universal health care is one of the top three priorities of AMSA," says Josh Rising, Legislative Affairs Director with AMSA, whose 30,000 members participate in chapters at medical schools across the country.  AMSA is also working on advocacy efforts to eliminate racial disparities in health care and to improve medical students¹ well-being (such as reducing resident work hours).  "We¹d like to help medical students to link up with health care justice and community groups who are involved in working for universal health care at the grassroots level."

"When you talk about universal health care, many professionals want to know how you would enact it," says Pat Dowds, psychologist and board member of the National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers.  "We¹re telling our members U2K is working to ensure that professionals will be at the table when policy solutions are discussed."  The Coalition organized Rescue Health Care Day on April 1, a national day of action that held events in over 30 cities calling for a nationwide debate over alternatives to for-profit managed care.  As Dowds noted, mental health professionals often ask: Or do you support mental health parity?¹ One way to involve health care professionals in the movement for universal health care is to address their concerns ­ such as the need for comprehensive mental health care and medical privacy ­ and point this out as an example of the need for comprehensive universal health care.

Another way to involve professionals in the movement for universal health care is to share their stories of struggling to provide comprehensive, affordable, quality, accessible and publicly accountable care in a health care system in crisis. "The need for comprehensive, affordable, quality, accessible and publicly accountable health care for all is something I think about on a daily basis," says Sherry Gauldin, a nurse practitioner at Project H.O.P.E. in Camden, NJ.  Sherry participated in a U2K workshop at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council symposium in April.  "As a health care provider in Camden, one of the five poorest cities in the U.S., I am touched by the challenges of providing health care to a largely uninsured or underinsured community."  To obtain Sherry¹s essay on providing care to people experiencing homelessness in our unjust and piecemeal health care system, contact the U2K office.

"The American Public Health Association has had a statement in support of universal health care since 1966," says Phil Bongiorno, APHA¹s Director of Grassroots Advocacy and State Affairs. APHA  reiterated that support in April 2000, when the organization voted to endorse the U2K Campaign, and encouraged its network of public health associations across the nation to do so, as well.  To date, several state and local public health associations have endorsed U2K.  APHA is currently working to support legislation that would provide more preventive services for individuals who lack health insurance, and to eliminate racial and ethnic health care disparities. Additionally, a working group is evaluating candidate proposals for universal health care according to APHA¹s fourteen principles of universal health care, outlined on its web site at <www.apha.org>.  One way to involve public health groups in this movement is to address their concerns ­ the need for greater investment in primary and preventive care, for instance ­ and include these in your organization¹s literature and events.

In the debate over the need for universal health care and ways to achieve it, America¹s health care professionals must be at the table.  Building a healthy movement for universal health care depends on it.

How to Engage Health Care Professionals and Public Health Groups in Your Community

* Contact one of the organizations or web sites below (or the U2K office) to link up with health care providers and public health groups in your community. Encourage these organizations and individuals to endorse U2K.

 - American Public Health Association, Phil Bongiorno, Director of Grassroots Advocacy and State Affairs, 202/777-2515, phil.bongiorno@apha.org, <www.apha.org>
 - American Medical Student Association, Josh Rising, Legislative Affairs Director, 703/620-6600, lad@www.amsa.org, <www.amsa.org>
 - National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers, 888-SAY-NO-MC, NCMHPC@aol.com
 - National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Kevin Lindamood, Community Relations Coordinator, 410/837-5533, klindamood@hchmd.org, <www.nhchc.org>
 - Physicians for a National Health Program, Ida Hellander, Director, 312/554-0382, pnhp@aol.com, <www.pnhp.org> (Please note: PNHP has not endorsed the U2K Campaign.)

* Seek the involvement of health care professionals and public health groups in your health care coalition.

* Include their concerns and issues in your organization¹s  program, publications and events.

* Co-sponsor events and initiatives.

CONTACT US (Let us know what you are doing in your state or region.)

Rachel Rosen DeGolia, Campaign Coordinator
Lee Chilcote, Field Organizer
U2K Campaign
2800 Euclid Ave., Suite 520, Cleveland OH 44115
Phone: 216/902-5577 * Fax: 216/241-8423
Email: <uhcan@uhcan.org>
Web Site: http://www.u2kcampaign.org

Linda Walling, Faith Communities Coordinator
U2K Campaign
15905 Fernway Rd.
Shaker Hts. OH 44120
Phone: 216/751-2440
U2kwalling@aol.com

REQUEST TO INCLUDE NEWS about your organization's activities on behalf of U2K and health care justice to this newsletter: Send your message to <uhcan@uhcan.org>

"U2K Update" ARCHIVES: Direct your Web browser to:<http://www.u2kcampaign.org/News> to see past issues of this newsletter.

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