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NEA President Encouraged with Progress of Health Care Reform Discussions

Recent meetings and discussions help improve excise tax formula for working Americans

WASHINGTON - January 14, 2010 -

WASHINGTON -- National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel today joined other leaders of organized labor in a teleconference to discuss recent health care reform developments and the substantial progress toward improving the proposed excise tax formula for working Americans. Van Roekel, along with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Chair of Change To Win Anna Burger, told reporters that they are “encouraged” by the significant progress and developments of the past few days.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

        “The meetings and discussions over the past several days have proven to be productive. We are mindful that there is still a lot of hard work ahead, but we are encouraged that we’re positively positioned to meet our shared goal of increasing the number of people who have access to quality, affordable health care. We’ve made significant progress and our progress bolsters our belief that a nation as great as ours can provide health care coverage to the more than 30 million among us who currently are uninsured, without unfairly penalizing or burdening working families in the process.

      “The huge number of uninsured in America includes children, so comprehensive health care reform is especially important to NEA members who work in public schools across the country and see children everyday who come to school sick and not ready to learn. Our children, all of them, represent the best of us -- our hopes and dreams for the future. We owe them – the foundation to reach their full potential – good health, quality education and equal opportunity.

      “I believe it is significant and worth noting that we reach this point of progress with the nation’s celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the horizon. He dared to dream big dreams for America – dreams that at the time, many thought impossible. We take this giant step forward toward the dream of health care reform – a dream that has been pursued in this nation for more than 50 years by seven presidents. We move forward in a manner that treats working Americans fairly – they will not be penalized because of gender, age or where they live. I believe all of this would be pleasing to Dr. King.

      “So today, I challenge us to be as bold and courageous as Dr. King and dream big. We will not stop, we will not turn back – we are firmly committed to harnessing the collective power of labor organizations, representing 16 million working Americans, to work for the passage of health care reform legislation that is fair to working families and moves our nation forward to compete and succeed in the global economy.”

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Rene Carter (202) 822-7823,