Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nov. 4 is just the beginning

How are we going to get health reform front and center on the national agenda, no matter what happens on Nov. 4?

Appeal to people’s common sense.

“Our people’s health is an investment, not an expense,” said Larry Adelman, executive producer of the knockout documentary “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” He and three other health reform advocates reminded those of us gathered for Tuesday’s “Health Access and the Election: What Happened, What Didn’t, What’s Next” session that you can apply a health lens to every issue. And it’s never too late to speak out for universal coverage.

“I believe, and I think the polling evidence supports this, that most Americans want to be fair to people and that most Americans think that if you’re sick, you deserve care,” said Linda Rae Murray, APHA Executive Board member and a champion of health equity. “So the fundamentals that we’re talking about here, that health care is a basic human right, I think is something that Americans as a people accept, despite of what our government says.”

Both John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s health plans (check out the Center for Policy Analysis’ comparison of the plans) would be a drop in the bucket as far as meaningful reform, the session presenters said. Yet, the public health community needs to keep pushing for real change and find new bedfellows to make it happen.

“We have to find a way to talk about this that allows us to bring in allies on the health reform question,” Murray said. “It’s not the economy, two wars, education or health reform. Everything is health.

“I think if we back up and not worry about all the graphs and the pie charts, if we back up and just speak in plain English to people in this country, we should be able to pass — not in the first 100 days — real health reform in this country that includes single payer as the basement and builds on top of that.”

Let’s just say if Murray were running for president, she’d have my vote.

— D.C.

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