Newsom joins healthcare reform campaign

July 8, 2008 3:53:44 PM PDT
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today joined labor, community and other leaders at one of more than 50 events held nationwide to launch a campaign for health care reform.

The $40 million Health Care for America Now campaign aims to push Congress and the next president to pass health care reform legislation in 2009.

The campaign has spent about $1.5 million on national television, print and online advertising and an e-mail blast to more than 5 million people that will go out today.

The campaign plans to spend $25 million more in paid media. About 100 organizers in 45 states will participate.

"It's a uniting issue," Newsom said at a news conference on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. "We're all in this together," he said, stating the issue crosses party lines.

Health Care for America Now, a coalition of more than 100 national and local groups, has received funding from partner organizations and was awarded a $10 million grant by New York-based Atlantic Philanthropies.

Anthony Wright, executive director of non-profit Health Access California and a moderator of today's San Francisco event, said the campaign is not promoting a specific plan, but rather advocating a set of principles to guide health care reform.

Those principles include an inclusive accessible health care system in which no one is left out, a choice of a public or private insurance plan without a private insurer middleman, health care benefits without out-of-pocket costs, equity in health care access, treatment and resources, and a watchdog for insurers.

The campaign also advocates cost controls and lower administrative costs for health insurance.

"We need a government that is a leader and a partner, rather than an obstacle, in reforming our health system," Wright said. He also said the campaign will continue efforts for state-based health reform.

Attendees at today's event included representatives of the California Labor Federation, Small Business Majority, Union of American Physicians and Dentists, San Francisco Labor Council, and other groups.