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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Health Action 2010: The Opening Plenary

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

In a word, the general mood at the opening plenary was "optimistic." Senator Al Franken remarked, "this isn't a funeral," and HHS Secretary Kathleen Seblius said, "We're at the one-yard line. We've received a penalty but the game is still on!" According to the advocates around the room, the game is, indeed, still on.

Last night during the State of the Union, President Obama did not spend the majority of his time on health reform. It's not, however, because it's not on the agenda- it's simply because now it's in the hands of our elected officials in Congress. The President told Congress loud and clear: do not walk away.

Secretary Sebelius made it clear that without each and every one of our voices, we might not get this done. But with all of us demanding that Congress pass this legislation and put people before profits, we can -and we will- get this done!

We've already come so far. Lately, we've done more to improve the security of working families in America than we've ever done. We are truly at the one-yard line. We can't go for a field goal, or call a time out. We have to make this happen, and we have to act now.

Sen Franken took the stage and not only brought the laughs but he bought the facts: thousands of Americans die every year because they don't have access to health care, thousands of families are forced into bankruptcy due to medical debt, and thousands of Americans stay up late praying their loved ones won't get sick. And that's in Franken's homestate of Minnesota alone.

Across the United States millions of Americans are without insurance and without access to quality affordable health care. With each day that passes, they're losing hope. We have to pick the ball back up, and pass this bill for them.

Sen. Franken reminded us that the opposition's answer to solving the broken health care system can be summed up in one word: "No." That's just not good enough for us.

Our message is longer, louder and more meaningful: Americans need health reform, they need it now, and won't stop until we pass this bill.

 We will get this done.