Civil Rights Groups Join Together in Health Care Debate

Major minority and civil rights groups are joining together to enter the health care debate, launching a series of ads in states with moderate senators and large minority populations.

The ad, a version of which is shown at left, links the decades-long push for health care reform to civil rights. Versions of the ad will run in English and Spanish in Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas -- specifically targeting Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), George LeMieux (R-Fla.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

The NAACP National Voter Fund, National Council of La Raza, Campaign for Community Change, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and United States Student Association are running the ads because "people of color have a special stake in health care reform," according to the coalition's Web site. The coalition points out that minorities have higher rates of common problems like heart disease and cancer and also face higher insurance rates.

The groups say they are seeking from lawmakers a robust public option, an end to health care racial disparities, coverage for all legal residents, as well as cultural and linguistic competence in the nation's health care system.