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Why We Did It

To the Progressive Community:

Some of you may be wondering why two leading progressive groups like SEIU and CAP have joined in a coalition with Wal-Mart, AT&T;, and Intel on health care. This is an important issue that deserves a direct response.

From all of our years in organizing and government, we have concluded that the primary obstacle to health reform is not the lack of ideas. What is needed to bring about fundamental reform is new pressure for change and genuine political will. This involves going beyond the traditional coalitions of associations and advocates and political players on both sides of the debate.

Given the failure of past efforts, we know that corporate America is critical to overcoming the forces of the status quo. Change of this magnitude can not occur without the largest payers and players in the system working together with the largest stakeholders to overcome barriers and create new opportunities for health reform.

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So today, SEIU and CAP helped to launch what is potentially one of the most transformative coalitions on the field today — a network of business, labor and public policy thinkers dedicated to building a new American health care system with quality, affordable coverage for all by the year 2012.

For the first time, companies like Wal-Mart, AT&T;, Intel and Kelly Services, unions like SEIU and the CWA, and public policy groups like CAP, the Howard Baker Public Policy Center, and the Committee for Economic Development have joined together to push for universal health care and a more rational and efficient health delivery system.

We are not na¯ve about the prospects for change or the difficulties of holding a coalition like this together over the long term. We will not allow this effort to be a fig leaf for anyone’s particular interests or image and we will not give up our core priorities in order to participate in this coalition.

A joint effort between corporate leaders and progressives in support of universal coverage is a major vindication of your hard work and diligence. It is our hope that you will now join us in this unparalleled effort to do what is right and necessary for our people and our economy.

You can read the coalition’s goals, principles, and plans for the next few months here and here, and we welcome your comments.

Sincerely —

Andy Stern and John PodestaUPDATE: More from Andy Stern: