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Education Reporter

NEA Lobbies for 'Universal' Government Health Care
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The NEA and other liberal groups have joined together into a coalition calling itself "Health Care for America Now!" Coalition members include dozens of other labor unions, progressive groups such as MoveOn.org, abortion provider Planned Parenthood, the National Council of La Raza, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic vice presidential and presidential candidate John Edwards, is a key spokeswoman.

"Our government's responsibility is to guarantee quality affordable health care for everyone in America and it must play a central role in regulating, financing, and providing health coverage," reads the group's Statement of Common Purpose.

Although the coalition has not issued a specific proposal for health care reform, the groups involved agree that the government should regulate insurance companies more strictly. They also want a government-managed health care program like Medicare but available to all Americans.

Health Care for America Now will spend $40 million on its election-year efforts. Between July and November, it will spend over $25 million on advertising, especially in battleground states.

The group is working in 45 states to raise popular support for its mission. It also plans to ask every member of Congress to promise to provide universal health insurance.

The coalition launched in 50 cities on July 8. NEA President Reg Weaver spoke at the press conference for the launch event in Washington, DC.

"The pressure won't stop until we have national health care reform. Concern about this country's health care crisis is front and center in the minds of our members," said Weaver. Health care reform "must guarantee comprehensive, quality coverage for all, and it must control cost. Individuals cannot and should not be asked to fend for themselves in the insurance market."

At this year's assembly, the NEA reaffirmed its support for a "single-payer health care plan." The NEA believes that "affordable, comprehensive health care, including prescription drug coverage, is the right of every resident." The choice of the word "resident" implies that the NEA wants government health care programs to cover many who are in the country illegally.

The NEA also believes that every child should have "direct and confidential access to comprehensive health, social, and psychological programs and services." School-based "family planning" clinics are an important component of the comprehensive services which the NEA believes children should be able to access without their parents' knowledge or consent.

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