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Health Care Leaders Meet in Denver

The following post is a dispatch from Peter Harbage, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Peter is attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Some of America’s greatest health care leaders gathered in Denver, today, to call for national health reform. Called “Winning Health Care Reform in 2009,” the event is sponsored by Families USA and SEIU.

The crowd was fired-up as the event kicked off with Ron Pollack, long-time health care warrior and head of Families USA, talked about the need for health reform. He lead off talking about how the slight dip in the number of uninsured reported by the Census Bureau just yesterday highlights how much ground we have lost since 2000. Pollack pointed out that today there are more uninsured in the US than the combined population in 24 states.

Pollack also featured the new Harry and Louise (www.harryandlouisereturn.com ) ad. The transformation of Harry and Louise from icons of the battle against the Clinton health reform effort to symbols in support of health reform in 2008 shows how bad the health reform has become. The website features a video where the actors talk about their personal experience with the broken health care system.

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Andy Stern, President of SEIU International, followed Pollack by pumping up the crowd as only a labor leader can. He focused on one top message: Get health care done in the first 100 days of the Obama administration.

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), kicked off the speakers talking about the fight for the SCHIP reauthorization last year, which was twice vetoed by President Bush.

Then came Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, whose father lead the fight in support of health reform under President Truman. Dingell, who has lead the fight in the House of Representative for as long as anyone, said that he is “Ready to work his heart out,” for health reform under President Obama.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) focused on the moral and financial urgency for health reform. She talked about the ‘hidden tax’ in health care where those with insurance already pay for care from the uninsured in a way that is hidden. The point: all of us already pay for the uninsured, and we all need to pull together to fix the broken system.

Stay tuned for more updates from the “Winning Health Care Reform in 2009” event!