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SEIU Announces Health Care Outreach Program

Stephon Johnson | 9/19/2013, 2:47 p.m.

In Pittsburgh, the president of SEIU and a member of President Barack Obama’s administration announced a new outreach initiative regarding the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, Mary Kay Henry joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in announcing a major outreach initiative by SEIU members on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, making them yet another high-profile partner in Health and Human Services’ “Champions of Change” group supporting the new health care law.

Focusing on communities in states like Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and others that struggle with high poverty rates, SEIU’s nurses, doctors and other health care workers, member leaders and activists will assist those on learning what the Affordable Care Act is and how to use it to their advantage. Poor Americans are more likely to go without insurance because they can’t afford it. The program is aimed particularly at African-American and Latino American communities.

“Let there be no doubt, the new health care law is working for working people,” said Henry. “We are not seeing the long-predicted ‘rate shock,’ but we are seeing ‘Republican shock’ as extremists fail in attempts to repeal or obstruct the Affordable Care Act and its landmark protections and benefits for working Americans.

“This law is already transforming the lives of working Americans,” Henry continued. “It is freeing working men and women from the fear of medical bankruptcy, from the fear of pre-existing conditions. It is freeing them to pursue the work they are called to do, to pursue the lives they want to lead and the dreams they hope to achieve.”

To get the word out, SEIU members plan on going door to door in their own neighborhoods, spreading the word where they work and hosting community education events, church meetings and health fairs with partner groups like Planned Parenthood and Families USA.

SEIU members also plan on reaching out to the low-wage workers they work side-by-side with who count on gaining health care coverage, including union janitors, home care workers and child care providers, as well as would-be union members such as fast-food workers. Some of them would be getting health coverage for the first time.

Henry said that with the confusion—manufactured or otherwise—about Obamacare, she felt the SEIU needed to push back and empower those who could benefit from the new law.

“It’s our moment to build power for working people by empowering them with the facts about the new health care law,” said Henry. “SEIU members worked for more than two decades to win affordable health care and stop the worst insurance industry abuses. We’re ready to give it all we’ve got once again.