Marian Wright-Edelman Inspires NCE
Marian Wright-Edelman, attorney, civil rights leader, and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, addressed the plenary session at the American Academy of Pediatrics NCE meeting in Washington, D.C., in October 2009.
She told the audience that it is time for a "Poor Children's Campaign" to address the fact that 14 million children now live in poverty (up from 11 million during Martin Luther King's "Poor People's Campaign"). In particular, she stressed the importance of a "health and mental health system" designed to help the whole child. Specifically, children need a comprehensive benefit package (like Medicaid) with a simplified bureaucracy to access such benefits, and one that is available to all children. She also advocated for a national safety net (covering all families up to 300% of the FPL), and to keep SCHIP in place.
Ms. Wright-Edelman fervently urged everyone to work hard to ensure that health care reform does not leave children worse off than before reform. As she put it: "We don't have a money problem, we have a morals problem and a priorities problem". Her remarks were applauded with a standing ovation. She closed with this timely advice: "We don't win if we don't raise a ruckus."