Filmmaker, Congressman, NAACP Leaders Call for Universal Health Care in America

July 9, 2007

Award-winning filmmaker/director Michael Moore and U.S. Congressman John Conyers Jr. joined NAACP leadership at its 98th Annual Convention in Detroit to point out that a large number of Americans lack adequate insurance, that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by many diseases and to urge Americans to advocate for universal health care.

Chairman of the NAACP Julian Bond has been an advocate for healthcare reform in this country. “It is universally agreed that our healthcare system is sick,” said Bond. “Equal access to health care has long been a NAACP concern.”

As the Congressional sponsor for House Resolution 676, Congressman Conyers has been one of the driving forces on a national level to engage debate in Washington on the importance of better healthcare for Americans. “The NAACP has endorsed this resolution and we plan to get the votes to pass it,” he said.  “We will dramatically reduce health disparities in African Americans,” said Conyers. “The President and Congress can no longer hide from universal healthcare, because of the national debate around Michael Moore’s movie SICKO.”

At a news conference, Moore asked NAACP members to challenge Presidential candidates attending the convention on Thursday to ask tough questions about their health care plans. “Be specific with these candidates,” said Moore. “Ask what are you going to do to change healthcare in this country? What do you specifically mean by healthcare for everyone?’

Moore also noted that nearly 50 million Americans do not have health insurance. As a result, 18,000 die each year. Thirteen percent of whites are uninsured, compared with 21 percent of African Americans. “We shouldn’t have profit involved when it comes to people’s health. The insurance company is between the doctor and the patient. That has to change.”   

African Americans have the highest rate of high blood pressure of all groups and tend to develop it younger than others. Men in African American populations also have more cancers of the lung, prostate, colon, and rectum than do white men. Overall, African Americans have more malignant tumors and are less likely to survive cancer than the general population. Although deaths caused by breast cancer have decreased among white women, African American women continue to have higher rates of mortality from breast and cervical cancer.  

NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes reiterated the NAACP’s commitment to work with Moore and Congressman Conyers to push for coverage for all Americans.  “The NAACP continues to advocate for universal health care, holding true to our belief that every American deserves access to high-quality affordable health care,” said Hayes. “Now is the time to address these issues and move forward to ensure health coverage as a civil right for all Americans.”

Moore held a special screening of his latest movie “SICKO” at the convention for NAACP members. The film profiles Americans whose lives have been disrupted, shattered and in some cases ended by the quality or lack of healthcare. The film makes clear that the crisis is not just for the 47 million uninsured, but for those millions who pay their premiums faithfully.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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