Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marketplace of ideas

Last night’s Town Hall Meeting on Health System Reform was a veritable smorgasbord of juicy quotes on our nation’s health crisis and the different ideas to finally fix it.

One of our top public health docs, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding, kicked off the dialogue, warning that if we don’t do something, today’s children can look forward to shorter life spans than we do — that’s a crisis, she said. Solving the problem will, of course, take time, Gerberding said, but any solution will require at least two steps: creating a social movement and enacting policy changes broad enough to reach everyone.

After all, “health doesn’t just happen in the health care delivery system,” she said. In fact, Gerberding said she hopes a framework will emerge that looks for health in all policies — maybe a health impact assessment should be conducted every time new legislation is proposed or reauthorized, she offered.

“When we invest in the public’s health, we get real results,” Gerberding told the audience.

Among the speakers sharing the panel with Gerberding was Quentin Young, national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, who pushed for public health workers to back a single-payer health coverage system. The marketplace holds the solutions to some problems, but it won’t work to fix the health crisis, he said. Our country sits “wounded by the health care system,” he lamented.

“Our present health system is the opposite of solidarity,” Young said.

A quote from panelist Cheryl Matheis, an AARP rep who spoke about the group’s Divided We Fail health reform campaign, struck this blogger best: “If we don’t demand it, it will not happen.”

— K.K.

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