In January 2009, with the U.S. Congress and president Barack Obama’s new administration preparing to consider national health care legislation, Families USA organized Health Action 2009, its 14th annual grassroots meeting of health advocates, around the theme "Winning Historic Health Care Reform."
Working with 51 conference co-sponsors, including health care organizations, labor unions and religious organizations, project staff designed an agenda of 12 plenary sessions and 42 panels. Some of the plenaries and panels at the January 29–31 conference in Washington were skill-building sessions designed to help participants work for health care reform and increase access to health care at both the state and local levels.
Featured panelists included U.S. senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; House majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne; political columnist and CNN consultant Paul Begala; and Atul Gawande, surgeon and writer for the New Yorker and Slate.