Purpose

America’s Health Together companion organization, Coalition Health First, proposes to coordinate a national campaign to build public support for comprehensive health care reform. The short-term goal is to influence the debate regarding health care issues during 2004; the long-term goal is to influence the enactment and implementation of real comprehensive health care reform.

Background

In the last decade, few politicians in either party have tackled the complex and intransigent problems of the U.S health care system. It is difficult to overcome the special interest players in our complex system.

Until recently, the public has also had little motivation to demand change. The majority of voters (vs. the non-voting uninsured) have been content with their health care plans and providers, and skeptical about a larger governmental role in managing the heath care system.

This changed in recent months. The failing economy has resulted in large cuts in both public and private health insurance programs, as States reduce Medicaid budgets, Medicare HMOs drop seniors, and private employers shift more costs of health coverage to their employees or completely opt out of voluntary coverage. In 2001, over two million people have lost health insurance coverage, and the prospect of hardship for millions more looms. People are now more aware of an ever-widening gap in the “security blanket” of reliable health insurance coverage.

New research published in Health Affairs shows that the share of private market coverage, traditionally borne by individuals and employers, has been overtaken by the public sector. Currently, 60% of the total health care dollar is now financed from the public coffers, which refutes the notion that more government involvement with the American health care system would lead to disaster.

In addition, the many corporate scandals, such as Enron, World Com, and Adelphi, have started the rehabilitation of the role of government in our economic system. As talk of Social Security privatization goes away, and more government regulation is sought, it may be time for a new message about the value of comprehensive health care secured by increased public support.

The Campaign

Coalition Health First is committed to health care reform that assures access to and coverage of comprehensive health care services for all U.S residents. A number of organizations, such as Families USA and the Universal Health Care Action Network, are already engaged in campaigns to influence public opinion about comprehensive health care reform.

Coalition Health First proposes to collaborate with them—providing an advocacy venue for coordination of a national reform message.