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Obama Takes to Airwaves in Fight for Health Care Reform

By Kevin Hart

July 22, 2009 – President Obama will take to the airwaves 8:00 p.m. ET Wednesday in a prime-time press conference to push for a health care reform bill that would provide coverage for millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans. Obama has asked Congress to deliver to him, preferably before the August recess, a bill that would provide a public health insurance option – a notion strongly supported by the National Education Association.

Now that three Congressional committees have passed a health care bill, Obama has said the nation is “closer than ever” to overhauling its health care system and providing a public insurance option to an estimated 47 million people in this country who currently lack coverage. Last week, two House committees (Education and Labor and Ways and Means) and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions approved bills that would establish a public insurance option, and this week health care reform will be taken up by the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Finance committees. 

Under the House and Senate bills passed so far, individuals could not be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and would still be able to choose their doctors and hospitals.

NEA supports health reform that ensures quality, affordable health care coverage for all. As part of its strategy to accomplish this, NEA advocates for a public health insurance plan option that would compete with private insurance in terms of cost and quality.

Access to quality health care also has implications for student performance. There is a strong body of research indicating that a lack of access to quality health care contributes to the development of achievement gaps among the nation’s poorest students. 

On NEA Today’s Facebook page, members and followers from throughout the country voiced support for a public health insurance plan option, and suggested features, such as affordability and mental health parity, they’d like to see in a final bill.

Several members voiced opposition to taxing health care benefits, which NEA also opposes. At NEA’s annual Representative Assembly, held in San Diego in early July, President Dennis Van Roekel said there was “no way” NEA would back such a provision, and Obama also has said he does not support it. Van Roekel expressed particular concern about what such a tax would mean for millions of Education Support Professionals struggling to earn a living wage.

NEA is continuing to ask its members to contact Congress and urge passage of a fair bill that would allow access to quality health care for all.


NEA's Position on Health Care Reform