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September 10, 2009
Healthcare Reform Statement from Dr. Gwendolyn Lee
National President of The Links, Incorporated

[Washington, DC] [September 10, 2009] – Dr. Gwendolyn Lee, National President of The Links, Incorporated issued the following statement regarding the ongoing debate over healthcare reform:
“Regardless of where one stands politically, one cannot deny the fact that there is an unmet need for affordable high quality health care for all Americans. There are millions of people out there, many who come from minority communities, in desperate need of comprehensive health care reform. In a society with so much compassion and generosity, it is inconceivable to force disadvantaged populations to sacrifice their basic medical needs. There has been too much dissent and confusion around what is a very simple issue. Healthcare should be affordable and available for everyone.”

Dr. Lee shared these thoughts in a recent communication to members of The Links, Inc., that stated, in part:
“These are very trying times as various groups confound and confuse those who perhaps would benefit the most from the proposed health care reform. They are drowning out voices so that all facts are not presented at various town hall meetings and community assemblies. I ask that you attend your town hall meetings, speak up, ask clarifying questions and, when misinformation is transmitted, politely correct the record or ask the Congressperson or Senator to cite and forward actual and factual passages addressing that issue to you and all present.  Educate your friends and family and others who express an interest. It is important that we all are informed so that we can make the right choices for us, those Americans who are less endowed, children, our elderly, etc. Nobody should have to make a choice between medicine and food. Nobody should have to wait for or not receive medical care because they can’t afford it. We are better than that!

Our interests and concerns start from infancy and progress to the elderly. From our international Maama Kits initiative which assists mothers by providing sanitary conditions during childbirth, to our partnership with the AARP, we are working hard to help meet the health care needs of the most at-risk populations. Not only do we focus on the young and the elderly, but we also reach everyone in between, even caregivers, through programs like Links to Oral Health and Project ALERT (an Alzheimer’s care initiative). Unlike the current healthcare system, our programs ensure that no one falls through the cracks.”

The Links, Inc., has long been involved in health related causes. Through their health- focused programs such as HeartLinks, members are advocating preventive care to combat heart disease. Partnering with The Heart Truth’s Community Action Program, Chapters of The Links, Inc. have implemented an effective, proactive and result-oriented program that promotes heart health.

The Linkages to Life program sponsored by The Links, Inc. has also educated thousands about the benefits of organ and tissue donation and raised money to fund those in need. The Links, Inc. knows the impact of late diagnosis of cancer and other diseases, and the organization’s partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure has helped to raise awareness of and provided linkages for early detection and treatment. Recently, The Links, Inc. empanelled a Commission of experts to engage in childhood obesity prevention to give special attention to health disparities and environmental inequities that disproportionately affect minority children living in low-income communities. These organizations and agencies are charged with facilitating coalition building, collaboration and support across communities and programs by informing organizations, agencies, and schools of how to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.

Dr. Lee continued, “As an organization, our programming history shows we know that access to care is a disparity that significantly affects African Americans. Our programs have been designed to lessen this gap. Armed with this understanding, we continue to make our voices heard in the town hall meetings and community assemblies so that the facts are no longer drowned out. The need for comprehensive health reform is there, and we as an organization are working to ensure that the basic healthcare needs of Americans are met for all.”

The Links, Incorporated is an international, women's non-profit, social welfare and service organization of over 12,000 members in 270 chapters across the United States, and the Bahamas. It was founded in 1946. From its inception, the organization's members have been developing and implementing programs that target issues affecting its members and communities. Community service has been the corner stone of the organization's outreach with members contributing more than 500,000 documented hours of community service annually. For the past 60 years, The Links, Incorporated has been internationally known for its programs that are focused on topics such as health, economics and education, youth, and policy efforts.

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