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SEIU partners with HHS on healthcare law rollout

health-reform2The president of the nation’s largest union of healthcare workers, Mary Kay Henry, today joined with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in announcing a major national outreach initiative by SEIU members on the Affordable Care Act, adding to the growing list of high-profile groups nationwide who are HHS “Champions of Change” partners supporting the new healthcare law.

“Let there be no doubt, the new healthcare law is working for working people,” SEIU President Henry said.  “We are not seeing the long-predicted ‘rate shock’ but we are seeing ‘Republican shock’ as extremists fail in attempts to repeal or obstruct the Affordable Care Act and its landmark protections and benefits for working Americans.”

SEIU’s nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers, member leaders and activists are all committing to reach out to hundreds of thousands of working Americans in 30 cities in coming weeks and months.   As a sign of their solidary, SEIU Nurse Leader Cathy Stoddart, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania President Neal Bisno and dozens of other long-time SEIU healthcare champions in Pennsylvania and their allies were present for the joint announcement here.

Stoddart, an R.N. whose family was once was forced into bankruptcy due to medical bills, said, “Of all the things I do as a nurse – and a mother – making sure the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented is the most important thing we can do. I’m determined no family will ever have go through what we did to have access, to quality, affordable and safe healthcare.”

Stoddart and other SEIU members  nationwide will focus on communities in Pennsylvania and 13 other states (CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, MD, MN, NJ, NY, OH, RI, TX, WA) that struggle with the highest rates of poverty and are more likely to go without insurance because they can’t afford it – including African American and Latino communities. Events are underway in other states as well.

“This law is already transforming the lives of working Americans,” SEIU President Henry said. “It is freeing working men and women from the fear of medical bankruptcy, from the fear of pre-existing conditions.  It is freeing them to pursue the work they are called to do, to pursue the lives they want to lead and the dreams they hope to achieve.”

To get the word out, SEIU members will go door-to-door in their own neighborhoods, spread the word  where they work  and host community education events, church meetings and health fairs, with partner groups such as Planned Parenthood, Families USA and Enroll America.

SEIU members will also reach out to thousands of low-wage workers they work side-by-side with who are counting on gaining healthcare coverage, some of them for the first time, including union janitors, homecare workers and childcare providers – and would-be union members such as fast food workers.

“It’s our moment to build power for working people by empowering them with the facts about the new healthcare law,” Henry said.  “SEIU members worked for more than two decades to win affordable healthcare and stop the worst insurance industry abuses.  We’re ready to give it all we’ve got once again.”

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