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NEA calls on summit participants to do the right thing for America’s children

Health care summit should be about children and nation’s future, not partisan politics


WASHINGTON - February 24, 2010 -

Congressional leaders from both political parties are scheduled to join President Barack Obama for a health reform summit on Thursday. The National Education Association today urged elected officials gathering for the summit to remember the 46 million uninsured Americans as individuals, not statistics.  The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“This is a critical time in America’s history. Our leaders have a unique opportunity to put politics aside and address the nation’s urgent need for quality, affordable health care. As America continues to recover from the economic slump, it is important to note that this reform—an important step in the economic recovery—should not be paid for at the expense of hard working Americans who can least afford it.

“Every day in classrooms all across the country NEA members witness what happens to the uninsured. It’s especially painful to see what happens to children who don’t have access to proper medical care. Uninsured children remain sick longer than their classmates and miss more days of school. They often sit at their desks with earaches, toothaches or other ailments that make it almost impossible to focus and learn. Sadly, many of the health problems America’s children face could be treated and even prevented. But the problems will only get worse without health insurance reform.  

 “The men and women we elected to represent our best interests in Washington have the chance to move beyond bickering and partisan politics and do what is right for the future — for our nation and our children. We hope that as the discussion unfolds on Thursday, the individuals sitting around the table will remember the 46 million uninsured Americans, millions of them children, and the devastating circumstances they face without health insurance. 

“It’s difficult to imagine that a country as great as ours cannot find a way to provide quality, affordable health care to everyone; but politics has a way of thwarting progress. This summit offers a chance to get it right. After more than 50 years and seven presidents, we’re closer than we’ve ever been to making the dream of health insurance reform a reality and this is not an opportunity we can afford to squander. America’s children can’t learn when they come to school sick and if they don’t learn — they won’t be prepared to be leaders in our 21st century global society. 

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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: René Carter  (202) 822-7494, jrcarter@nea.org