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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Health Action 2011: A great success

Rachel Bates

Staff Writer

After attending our action-packed Health Action 2011 conference this past weekend, health care advocates from across the country are returning to their home states, ready to continue the fight for quality health care for all Americans.

Advocates attended workshop sessions that will help them as they continue to implement the Affordable Care Act in their states, attended networking breakfasts with other advocates working on similar issues, honored health care heroes, and—according to some early reviews—had a great time!

Plenary sessions featured leaders from the health care reform movement such as Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Max Baucus, Rep. Xavier Becerra, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Sen. Harkin, who was the first to speak, described the health care law as a “starter home.” He acknowledged that the bill isn’t perfect, but it is a great starting point, and Democrats should fight to keep the law intact. He reinforced his support for health care reform by saying,

I'm determined to do everything in my power as both the chairman [of the HELP committee] and an individual senator to protect this important law against any attempt to weaken or repeal it.

The highlight of the conference was arguably an appearance by President Barack Obama early Friday morning.

President Obama thanked Families USA and all of the organizers and activists who have worked so hard to make health care reform a reality. To great applause, the President reminded the audience that all of their hard work had paid off with the Affordable Care Act, and it was time to focus on implementation.  He said,

I am not willing to just refight the battles of the last two years. I’m not open to efforts that will take this law apart without considering the lives and the livelihoods that hang in the balance. Families USA, we are moving forward—we are moving forward.

President Obama also spoke about how the Affordable Care Act is working for Americans, even as he stood up on stage addressing conference attendees:

Millions of young Americans can stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26. Millions of older Americans are receiving better access to preventive services and more affordable prescription drugs. We’ve torn down the barriers that stood between the American people and their doctors so that inside your network, you can see the primary care physician, the pediatrician, the OB-GYN of your choice, and you can use an emergency room outside your network without your insurer sticking you with extra charges.

To read the full text of his speech, click here.

By all accounts, Health Action 2011 was a great success. Advocates from across the country left with new knowledge of how to implement the Affordable Care Act in their states and great memories of seeing the President and meeting fellow advocates.

We can’t wait to see all of you there next year!