Reframing The Healthcare Conversation

Healthcare is personal. it affects every aspect of our lives as citizens, patients and consumers. The new healthcare legislation will impact all of us, no matter what role we play in the system. On a personal level, health is the difference between life and death – or the difference between a fully functional life and one of pain and disability. Throughout our communities, healthcare institutions are central to economic stability and growth.

Healthcare is local. Regardless of what happens nationally, it is in your community that you are encounter health risks and have medical services when you need them. So whether you’re motivated by improving your own healthcare or have a desire to improve the system as a whole, a thriving healthcare environment is essential to improving everyone’s well-being. In fact, every time you use healthcare services in your community, you can contribute to solving the problems facing our healthcare system. But improving the system requires that you engage with others to define – and meet – your goals. We’re anxious to help and hear your experiences.

Healthcare is political. Without an informed and involved population, there’s no way to enrich our democracy and ensure that national and local policies serve the needs of the public. Unless individuals call for the change we want to see, we’ll all lose out to special interests and the ideological positions of our elected officials.

We need to get involved as citizens, as patients and as consumers. Here are some of the reasons why:

As citizens we are concerned about the cost of healthcare for our nation and the availability medical services for all Americans. The healthcare sector is a major contributor to our growing national debt, and the projected growth in unsustainable. At the current annual rate of spending, the Medicare Trust Fund will be bankrupt by 2035.

Americans have become increasingly polarized over the government’s role in the healthcare debate. People are frustrated by the perceived inefficiency of government and fear too much involvement will intrude on their private lives. Others call for a healthcare system that guarantees all Americans the opportunity to engage in society as healthy individuals with the peace of mind that comes from having access to affordable health care regardless of age, economic status, employment or medical conditions.

Confronted by the threat of ever-rising medical costs, we, as taxpayers, must ensure our hard-earned money is going into a system that:

  • Is sustainable and will not bankrupt the nation

  • Is based on fair taxation an allocation of limited resources that achieves stated objectives

  • Utilizes a transparent democratic process to address morally challenging issues

  • Demands that elected officials represent citizens’ needs over those of special interests or ideologies that stand to benefit from broken policies.

As patients, our demand is simple: to have the right care at the right time leading to the best outcome. There are far too many preventable deaths, medical errors, hospital-acquired infections and readmissions. Primary care clinicians are in short supply.

But there are solutions that ensure we have access to safe, effective and timely care. We as patients call for a system that:

  • Treats us with dignity

  • Allows us to work with competent healthcare providers utilizing current, evidence-based treatments free of undisclosed financial considerations

  • Lets up make decisions by consulting with our healthcare providers and experts, not bureaucrats from the government or insurance companies.

As consumers, we can see that our insurance costs are rising rapidly – from co-pays and deductibles to the cost of coverage itself. And as new consumers enter the insurance system, access to care will become even more limited, especially for those suffering from chronic illnesses.

Now more than ever, healthcare delivery structures are impacting the choices available to us as healthcare consumers. To ensure our coverage and access to care meets our needs, we demand a system that:

  • Gives us the ability to choose the healthcare providers and level of insurance coverage that best meets our needs

  • Gives us access to cost-effective healthcare activities

  • Provides access to meaningful, transparent information about the cost and quality of healthcare activity

  • Guarantees the privacy of our information

  • Sets clear prices and guidelines in our policies

  • Offers clearly defines processes to voice our grievances and appeal healthcare decisions.

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