BOSTON - Health Care For All (HCFA) inaugurated its 30th anniversary campaign by celebrating the progress made in health care access and quality in Massachusetts and by looking towards the work yet to be done to ensure that the health care system works for all.
"We gathered tonight to reaffirm three decades of unwavering commitment to one core belief: health care is a human right. With nearly everyone covered in Massachusetts - more than 96% of adults - HCFA remains determined to create a health care system that meets the needs of all consumers, including the most vulnerable," said Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care For All. "Right now, we are laser-focused on payment and health system delivery reforms that improve the overall health of consumers."
With hundreds of guests, including government officials, health care executives, business leaders and consumers, attending the event, HCFA honored an outstanding business leader and a community-based organization that have made a difference in people's lives.
Ari Haseotes, Chief Executive Officer of Framingham-based Cumberland Farms, received the Health Care Leadership Award for his commitment toproviding health care access to thousands of employees.
"Mr. Haseotes extended insurance to 1,500 additional employees at a time when many businesses looked to reduce costs through cutting benefits," added Governor Michael Dukakis, who presented the award. "I commend him for his compassion and his foresight in making health care available and affordable for his workers."
"I have always been a big fan of Cumberland Farms, especially for their delicious coffee, but I discovered yet another reason to respect the company. As I learned from morning conversations with the clerks in my local store, the head of Cumberland Farms established a health benefits policy that has a profound impact on his employees' lives and sets a powerful example for employers everywhere," said Whitcomb Slemmer.
"I am honored to accept this award from Health Care For All on behalf of the more than 7,000 team members in our Company. Expanding health care coverage was not only the right thing to do for our team members, it was the right thing to do for our business, too," said Ari Haseotes, CEO of Cumberland Farms. "Our mission is to deliver the friendliest, cleanest and most convenient customer experience by first being the best place to work. Our health benefits initiative is an important part of that effort, since we know that healthy and happy team members will be committed to making Cumberland Farms the clear choice for our customer's everyday needs."
The United Neighbors of Fitchburg (UNF) also was honored during the "For The People" celebration. This community-based organization became the third recipient of the John Auerbach Community Leadership Award, which is presented to an outstanding organization or individual that works to improve the health and lives of vulnerable populations in Massachusetts.
UNF was a key partner in an unprecedented canvassing effort to spread the word about health care options during the last open enrollment period. HCFA engaged 11 regional partners in a statewide campaign to knock on 200,000 doors. Because of the hard work, commitment and determination of more than the 100 canvassers deployed in the streets, 431,000 households were reached.
"It is such a pleasure for the United Neighbors of Fitchburg to receive this meaningful award," said Joana Dos Santos, Executive Director of the United Neighbors of Fitchburg. "At UNF we work diligently to empower our communities and provide them with the tools they need to thrive. Our partnership with Health Care For All has been instrumental in educating our constituencies about health insurance, in a linguistically and culturally appropriate way, so that they can get healthy and stay healthy."