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For Immediate Release

Physicians' Group Remembers Senator Ted Kennedy for Leadership

Cambridge, Mass - 08/26/2009

Cambridge, MA – Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) CEO Frank Donaghue issued the following statement upon learning of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy:

"In our lifetime, no one has done more to champion health as a universal right than Senator Ted Kennedy. He was a passionate advocate for quality, affordable, accessible healthcare for the many, not just for the few, and a tireless champion of the human rights of all people everywhere. During his career spanning five decades, he passed landmark legislation to secure the right to health for all.

"In an historic address to the Democratic National Convention in Denver on August 25, 2008, Senator Kennedy stated that solving the major health care challenges facing the nation was the cause of his life."

In this address, Senator Kennedy declared: "We need serious proposals to help solve the major health care challenges facing the nation. We need proposals that hold the promise of providing every American with quality health coverage — making sure that it is a right and not a privilege. In the wealthiest and most prosperous nation in the world, no citizen should have to choose between a visit to the doctor and paying the rent or putting food on the table."

"Therefore," stated Donaghue, "on December 8, 2008, in observance of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; in recognition of the senator's passionate advocacy for affordable, accessible, quality healthcare for all Americans; and in celebration of his tireless advocacy for the human rights of all people everywhere, we honored Senator Edward M. Kennedy with the Physicians for Human Rights Award for Outstanding Leadership on the Right to Health."

PHR Posts Tribute Video

Physicians for Human Rights has posted a tribute video, "A Season for Hope," which honors Senator Kennedy's lifetime of leadership on the right to health, at http://phrblog.org/blog/2009/08/26/a-season-of-hope-phr-honors-ted-kennedy/

A Lifetime of Leadership on the Right to Health

  • In 1966, Senator Kennedy created a national health center system.
  • In 1972, he became Chairman of the Senate Health Subcommittee, enhancing his ability to champion the cause of quality health care for all Americans.
  • Another priority for Senator Kennedy was the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program. This program, popularly known as WIC, offers food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services for low-income women, infants, and children.
  • He became a champion of the 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata, which called on the international community, and all health and development workers, to protect and promote the health of all people of the world.
  • Senator Kennedy authored the Refugee Act of 1980, which established a comprehensive U.S. policy to provide humanitarian assistance, admission and resettlement to refugees around the world.
  • In 1990, Senator Kennedy introduced, along with Senator Hatch, the groundbreaking Ryan White CARE Act, which provided emergency relief to the thirteen cities hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, and also provided substantial assistance to all states to develop effective and cost-efficient AIDS care programs, aimed particularly at early diagnosis and home care.
  • In 1994, as Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, Senator Kennedy worked closely with President Clinton to expand opportunity for working families. His leadership brought about the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • In 1997, as Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, Senator Kennedy worked closely with President Clinton to expand opportunity for working families. His leadership brought about the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • In 2006, Senator Kennedy sponsored and helped pass the Family Opportunity Act, which provided states the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to children with special needs, allowing low- and middle-income families with disabled children the ability to purchase coverage under the Medicaid program.
  • In 2007, he sponsored the Health Care Safety Net Act of 2007.
  • So deep was Senator Kennedy's commitment to the highest attainable standard of health, that on July 9, 2008, while recovering from brain surgery, he made a surprise trip to Capitol Hill. There he cast a critical vote to secure healthcare coverage for senior citizens.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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