Joel Segal is a senior legislative assistant covering Social Security, veterans affairs, housing, HIV/AIDS in Africa, and poverty issues for Rep. John Conyers. He has been a long-time activist for universal health care, affordable housing, and environmental and public health. He is the coordinator for Mr. Conyers' Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force, the Poor People's Caucus, and is the grassroots coordinator for the new Incarceration & Sentencing Policy Caucus. He founded the Free China Movement of over thirty groups inside and outside China, working for peace and democracy.
National Health Insurance Conference
Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) hosted a National Health Insurance Conference, April 16-17, 2004 to kick off a 50-state campaign for passage of national health insurance legislation, HR 676 – the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.” Conyers introduced HR 676 in the House in 2003.
Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, keynoted the conference, speaking on “The State of Health Care – The Case for National Health Insurance.” Conyers spoke on “Launching a National Movement for HR 676,” followed by a session on “Getting the Message Out – Working the Media.”
Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Joel Segal, senior assistant to Conyers, presented the details of HR 676 in a session titled, “What Is It and How Do We Pay For It?” They will seek to arm the participants to take the message back to the neighborhoods. There was also a session on strategies to promote single-payer legislation on the state level. Activists were working on state single-payer bills in a number of states, including Massachusetts, California, and Pennsylvania. The agenda includes nuts-and-bolts workshops on working with unions, faith communities, educators, and health workers.
Ron Gettelfinger, United Auto Workers president, and Leo Gerard, Steelworkers president, both advocates of single-payer health care, were invited to address the conference. The conference also extended invitations to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, two of the co-sponsors of HR 676.
Conference organizers intended to establish a national health insurance citizens’ network to begin implementing a campaign to pass HR 676 or its equivalent. They also hoped to open a national health insurance coordination office in Washington.
Dozens of health care and social justice organizations endorsed the conference including Physicians for a National Health Program, the Gray Panthers, Jobs with Justice of Washington, D.C., the National Coalition for the Homeless, the American Medical Students Association, Universal Health Care Action Network, and the National Welfare Rights Union.
“We believe that the leadership should come from the people that do the work, and now is the time to build a serious movement for national health insurance for all in America,” asserted conference organizers Michelle Tingling-Clemmons and Rick Tingling-Clemmons. The conference was held at Howard University Hospital and Towers Auditorium, 2041 Georgia Ave. NW, Washington, D. C.