Press Release: Latino Youth Adopt Health Care Reform Priorities at the 2009 LULAC Washington Youth Leadership Seminar.
56 outstanding high school students met to discuss what Congress should do to provide better health care for all Americans.
October 9, 2009
Contact: Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos
(202) 833-6130 ext. 16
Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights organization, through the LULAC National Educational Service Centers brought 56 students from around the country to the nation’s capitol to adopt and share their Health Care Reform agenda with White House officials and Members of Congress.
“The Washington Youth Seminar is one of the nation’s longest running and most respected Hispanic youth leadership programs. The students come to the nation’s capitol to expand their leadership skills and knowledge on key issues,” said LNESC Executive Director Richard Roybal. “We want to thank the U.S. Army and WalMart for their generous sponsorship.”
The four-day annual event brings fifty-six emerging student leaders in grades 11 and 12 from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico to Washington, DC.
While in the nation’s Capitol, students discussed issues impacting the Latino community with national leaders from Congress, corporate America and other public and private institutions.
“Going to Washington, DC was a once in a life time experience,” said Elizabeth Roque a Milwaukee junior sponsored by LULAC Council 326. “I was able to meet people from all over the United States and learned more than I expected about Health Care Reform. This reform will cover more citizens than it does now. The importance is that a high percentage of Americans will be insured. This is a wonderful experience that I will forever cherish.”
On Wednesday, September 30th the students adopted the following positions:
Comprehensive Health Care Reform: We urge Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform that will guarantee quality, affordable health care for all. We support a mandate to ensure all Americans are covered and legislation that would prevent insurers from denying coverage to customers with pre-existing conditions. We also support an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans and sin taxes on unhealthy foods to help pay for the cost of the increased coverage. We support a public option to encourage competition and lower costs.
School-based Health Care: We urge Congress to expand school-based health care clinics because students perform better when they show up for class, healthy and ready to learn. We believe it is a common sense cost effective approach to offer care for the health of the student in the same building where we care for their mind. We know if our schools offered health care services, more students would get the care they need and would be able to concentrate on their studies, lowering disciplinary problems and increasing academic success.
Increase Access: Congress should increase funding for community health centers which provide easier access for many families around the country at a lower price point. An increase in the capacity of health centers would provide a culturally competent outreach method for preventative and essential care. Congress should also expand access to care by phone and internet services for routine health care needs to reduce unnecessary office visits.
Focus on Preventative Care: Congress should invest heavily in preventative health care, which, if implemented properly, is more cost effective than fee-for-service plans. We believe that a major emphasis on preventative care through media campaigns, workplaces and schools, could save billions of dollars in higher cost chronic care down the line.
Coverage of Immigrants: We believe children, regardless of immigration status, should be covered by health insurance as long as they are enrolled in school. We also believe legal immigrants should have the same access to health care as other American citizens without special restrictions based upon their time within the United States.
Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs: Congress should regulate the price of patented prescription drugs. Individuals who are in need of essential prescription medication should not go without because of the cost. Congress should set two pricing tiers; one that sets a maximum price manufacturers may charge for a prescription drug and another that provides a discounted pricing structure for low income families, the elderly, handicapped and chronically ill.
Nutritional Instruction: Congress should create a public awareness campaign to inform Americans about healthier eating habits. We believe that all restaurants and school cafeterias should display mandatory calorie and nutrition facts that are visible and accessible to the consumer. Schools should offer a year long course on nutrition and health. We know that a healthy and knowledgeable brain leads to a healthy body.
Increase Physical Activity:Congress should provide incentives to schools to expand physical education classes and keep school gyms open longer. Because obesity increases with the amount of hours spent watching TV and playing video games; TV shows and game manufactures should receive a seal of approval from the government if they alter their content to encourage physical activity. Likewise, businesses could receive a seal of approval if they provided exercise options for their staff. Congress should consider subsidizing gym membership for low income Americans.
Healthier Options in our Lunchrooms: Congress should pass legislation that ensures that all schools provide healthy, affordable and high quality options in their cafeterias. With a limited time to eat and easy access to unhealthy products, we often fall victim to eating the most readily available option which is often the least healthy. Schools should be incentivized to promote healthier choices instead of junk food.
Peer-to-Peer Programs: Congress should create a pilot to develop peer-to-peer health care programs that are taught by fellow students with the goal of harnessing peer pressure to encourage healthy lifestyles. Several studies have shown that peer-to-peer instruction is an effective method to counter drug use, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Peer-to-peer programs would have the buy-in from youth who are inspired to lead healthy and positive lives while being able to speak to the language of their peers to join them.
Participants are recommended and sponsored by LULAC Councils to serve as representatives of their home states. Once in Washington, D.C., students work with LNESC and LULAC staff as well as LULAC leaders from across the country to develop a platform of initiatives which are of interest to the Hispanic youth. The students meet with policymakers to discuss, collaborate on a position paper, which is then sent to their congressional representatives. In past years, students have focused on issues such as gun control, education and immigration.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.
Brianna Aguilar Colorado Springs, CO Council 30004
Clarisa Alcantar Round Rock, TX Council 4858
Cynthia Alvarado Alsip, IL Council 5260
Marie Alvarez South Bend, IN Council 5001
Renee Aranda Tucson, AZ Council 1002
Ana Arias Chicago, IL LNESC Chicago
Jessica Arroyo Cicero, IL Council 5004
Hector Bazaldua Pasadena, TX Council 4312
Denise Burruel Rio Rico, AZ Council 1005
Eric Casillas Knox City, TX Council 1006
Edgar Coronado Tucson, AZ Council 1091
Sabrinna Diaz South Bend, IN Council 6001
Kaylee Dominguez Chicago, IL LNESC Chicago
Samantha Enriquez Phoenix, AZ Council 1083
Matthew Fensler Phoenix, AZ Council 284
Jorge Garcia Albuquerque, NM Council 8035
Jacob Garza San Antonio, TX Council 301
Jennifer Gil Isla Verde, PR Council 14816
Ulises Gonzalez Clute, TX Council 636
Martin Guevara Houston, TX Council 60
Violet Herrera El Paso, TX Council 4457
Brian Jacome Bronx, NY Council 23015
Lizeth Lopez Garcia Tucson, AZ Council 1057
Samantha Marquez Houston, TX Council 688
Lourdes Martinez Houston, TX LNESC Houston
Dominic Navarette Kansas City, MO LNESC Kansas City
Lisa Navarrete Freeport, TX Council 4655
Maricela Navarro South Bend, IN Council 6002
Anthony Nevarez San Gabriel, CA Council 245
Isaac Nevarez San Jose, CA Council 2080
Cindy Oliver Duarte, CA LNESC Los Angeles
Thomas Penaherrera Freehold, NJ Council 11463
Anita Ponce Castroville, CA Council 2907
Christina Pumphrey Huber Heights, OH Council 39000
Sergio Ramirez Corpus Christi, TX Council 1101
Natalie Reyes Covina, CA LNESC Los Angeles
Uriel Rios Houston, TX LNESC Houston
Lucas Rodriguez Tucson, AZ Council 1086
Elias Rodriguez Tucson, AZ Council 1082
Jesus Rodriguez Duarte, CA Council 3033
Lissette Rodriguez Stockton, CA Council 3146
Marco Rodriguez Chicago, IL Council 5005
Magali Rojas Kansas City, MO LNESC Kansas City
Cynthia Roman Cicero, IL Council 5211
Elizabeth Roque Milwaukee, WI Council 326
Miranda Sanchez Corpus Christi, TX Council 1
Sonia Sandoval Plano, TX Council 4537
Maria Silva Pasadena, TX Council 4824
Karen Stead Bronx, NY Council 23014
Andrea Suarez Austin, TX Council 4858
Billie Thorndycraft Patagonia, AZ Council 1088
Sabrina Torres San Antonio, TX Council 4484
Emily Valdez Chandler, AZ Council 1111
Julia Valles Houston, TX Council 402
Clara Zamora Austin, TX Council 4858
Shiela Zuniga Texas City, TX Council 151