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Quit picking at the problem…we need universal health care

95 groups unite to push health care agenda,  By  Lisa Greene, Times Staff Writer 

TAMPA — Making health care more affordable is so important to 95 local and national advocacy groups that they have formed a coalition to push health care reform.

The coalition, Health Care for America Now, launched a national media campaign Tuesday with news conferences in Tampa and 52 other cities, including six more in Florida.

"We will either have a guarantee of quality, affordable health care," said Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network, one of the groups participating. "Or we will continue to be at the mercy of the private insurance industry … putting company profits before our health."

Participating groups include the National Education Association, the Campaign for America’s Future, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Service Employees International Union and MoveOn.

The group is not endorsing either presidential candidate, focusing instead on building support for health care reform. The coalition plans to spend $1.5-million on its initial campaign and more than $25-million over the next five months.

On the group’s wish list: reform that allows Americans to keep the private insurance they now have or choose a new private or public plan; and rules to keep insurers from charging high premiums and denying coverage.

"Health care premiums are out of control," said Pat Sanchez, a small business owner who spoke at the Tampa event.

"Now is the time to make sure the next president, and the next Congress, deliver on the promise of quality, affordable health care," said Jan Chester, vice president and chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.