Six Major Corporations Join Better Health Care Together; Governors Rendell & Schwarzenegger Cite Importance of the Coalition's Efforts at Summit

New York, NY— Better Health Care Together ( www.betterhealthcaretogether.org) announced today they are adding six organizations to its effort to achieve broad-based health reform by 2012. Those joining the coalition are corporations from a range of business sectors: Embarq Corporation, General Mills, Maersk Line, Manpower Inc., Qwest Communications International Inc., and RR Donnelley.

“Healthcare reform in this country is everyone’s issue,” said Richard C. Notebaert, Qwest Chairman and CEO.  “We are pleased to be a part of a group so dedicated to one of our most pressing issues and we are looking forward to working toward a new American healthcare system.”

”Millions are uninsured, while health care costs grow almost without restraint,” said Steve Sanger, Chairman and CEO of General Mills. “We have actually had some success controlling costs, but health care is clearly not working for everyone in America.  We believe we have an opportunity to make the market function in health care.  But we also believe the time is now.  America can’t afford to wait.”

Manpower Inc. is proud to support Better Health Care Together and take a lead in conversations that further their core commitment to people.  “We believe that everyone deserves quality and affordable healthcare coverage.  The time has come for America’s corporate leadership to take a forward-looking role in proposing a national solution,” said Melanie Holmes, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Manpower, North America. “We are confident that this coalition will continue to grow in size and influence, with a dedication to bettering the lives of all Americans.”

These announcements came during a meeting today where more than 80 leaders in business, labor and civil society met for The Better Health Care Together Strategy Summit. The group drew support from key governors and made plans to promote its principles for reform of the health care system by 2012.

During lunch, Governor Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California (live via satellite) addressed the coalition and guests. Both governors addressed the need for broad-based health care reform and what kind of leadership commitment it will take to achieve it.

“How can we ignore that fact that more than 46 million Americans, 900,000 of them in Pennsylvania, are uninsured?” asked Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. “Addressing the health care crisis is one issue that can’t wait – the cost of inaction is far too great in terms of individual health consequences and the increasing burden on taxpayers. That’s why in Pennsylvania I’ve introduced my ‘Prescription for Pennsylvania’ to increase access to affordable health care coverage, improve the quality of care and bring health care costs under control for employers and employees.”

“We are ready for action right now on health care. So we must work together to encourage the stakeholders who want to join us, and talk to those who don’t, about why we need reform. Comprehensive health care reform is too important to every single American for any of us to sit on the sidelines. We all need to make our voices heard so we can solve the health care crisis in all our states,” said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Better Health Care Together is a unique partnership of organizations, launched in February 2007, dedicated to four common sense principles for achieving a new American health care system by 2012.  The coalition was founded by AT&T, Inc.; the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy; the Center for American Progress; the Committee for Economic Development; the Communications Workers of America (CWA); Intel Corporation; Kelly Services, Inc.; the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The coalition’s work centers around four principles:

1.    We believe every person in America must have quality, affordable health insurance coverage;
2.    We believe individuals have a responsibility to maintain and protect their health;
3.    We believe that America must dramatically improve the value it receives for every health care dollar; and,
4.    We believe that businesses, governments, and individuals all should contribute to managing and financing a new American health care system.

The coalition’s members are working to engage leaders at all levels – from local communities to Washington, D.C. – to support real and meaningful change to America’s health care system by 2012.  The activities include:

•    Recruiting additional, selected business, labor and civic leaders committed to making health care reform a reality;
•    Enlisting support for the principles from national, state and local elected officials, policymakers, candidates and opinion leaders; and,
•    Launching education initiatives to persuade workers and customers that the current health care system should be reformed to reflect the Better Health Care Together principles.

"This coalition reflects the national consensus behind the need for comprehensive health care reform," said John D. Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress.  "Public pressure should be brought to bear upon the presidential candidates so a commitment to universal coverage is the price of admission to the White House."

Charles E.M. Kolb, President of the Committee for Economic Development (CED), noted, “Reforming our health care system is a long-term economic priority for this country.  Even beyond its unacceptable human costs, our inefficient and dysfunctional health care system will continue to choke U.S. business competitiveness and impede economic growth.”

“When this many different perspectives unite behind a common goal, it makes very clear that health care reform is achievable.  There is no shortage of good policy ideas, and we know how hard the public is pushing for reform,” said Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  “All we need now is the political will to get it done, and Better Health Care Together’s diversity, strength, and expanding size will be a powerful engine to finally get quality, affordable care for everyone in America.”

"Americans are desperate for solutions to this country’s health care crisis, and our coalition is a key and growing forum for meeting that need.  We are thrilled with our new members and the strong show of support from elected leaders of both parties at the highest levels. Clearly we are building broad-based momentum for getting something done about our broken health care system," said Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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