UNM Hospital is hosting a national town meeting on Monday, March 26, Expanding Health Coverage - Make it America's Priority. The hour-long program will involve local lawmakers and healthcare leaders who will examine how to make the plight of the uninsured a national priority.

The meeting is scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. and will coincide with a live national satellite "town meeting" addressing the uninsured crisis facing hospitals across the U.S.

The televised town meeting, moderated by Susan Dentzer of "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" (PBS), will feature U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and U.S. Representative Nancy Johnson (R-CT), as well as Stephen Schroeder, M.D., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"We have come together because of the rising number of people who do not have adequate access to healthcare services," said Steve McKernan, CEO UNM Hospital. "When people lack health coverage, usually they lack good health because they don't always get medical tests, or the care that they need. Often, they don't have a regular doctor and have to go to an emergency room for their routine medical care."

Nationally, the number of uninsured Americans is currently estimated at about 43 million. Public opinion polls show that even Americans who currently have insurance feel insecure about their coverage and worry about losing it. New Mexico is particularly affected, having one of the highest uninsured rates in the U.S. with 25.6 percent of non-elderly citizens uninsured.

The national sponsoring organizations for the local town meeting and the televised national town meeting are the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Families USA, Health Insurance Association of America, Service Employees International Union, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Funding for both events comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest foundation devoted to improving the health and health care of all Americans.
Contact: HSC Public Affairs, 272-3322