At a gathering on November 21, 2010, a number of community partners who have been active with the EQUAL Health Network expressed our deep concerns regarding the future of health care reform and the political direction of the country more generally. Our concerns included:
1. Misguided policies have widened social and economic inequality, eroding the middle class in the U.S. and shredding the financial security of millions. A decade of the virtual abandonment of government oversight and accountability contributed significantly to the collapse of the financial sector, persistent high unemployment, record rates of home foreclosures and bankruptcies, and uncontrolled health care costs. Corporate-sponsored campaigns and corporate-dominated media attempt to falsely attribute responsibility for the economic crash to an overly intrusive government. This stands reality on its head and must be challenged.
2. Progress requires a political program that recognizes the central role of the government in generating an economic recovery. Further tax breaks to wealthy individuals will not create jobs. Banks are now sitting on billions that they refuse to invest, while pursuing relentless and questionably legal home foreclosures. Substantial deficit spending is critical to regenerate demand and innovation. Demand will flow from employment in the public sector as well as programs such as extended unemployment benefits that provide cash to lower-income people who will spend it. Public investment in education, health care and housing will help to renew innovation. It is vital to protect Medicare and Social Security from arbitrary cuts, both to protect people’s financial security and to reorient policy towards a more productive course.
3. The Obama Administration, elected on a wave of voter mobilization, has succeeded in enacting an historic health care reform law, as well as numerous other achievements. But it has yet to generate the momentum for an economic recovery, or the civic engagement that can achieve a political one.
We propose to organize our activities for the near future as follows:
1. We call for leadership at every level- among elected officials. community leaders, and advocacy organizations – to reinvigorate our vision of social justice and to reconnect with and mobilize the American public in our own self-interest, for financial security and the opportunity to improve our lives and communities.
2. We will aim to act as catalysts for the change we believe is necessary, and seek to create alliances with organizations and individuals who ascribe to similar beliefs and goals.
3. In the realm of health care reform, we commit to the following.
a. Oppose and resist calls to repeal, delay and otherwise undermine the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
b. Educate the public about the substantial benefits ensuing from the ACA, particularly the expansion of publicly-financed coverage, greater controls over administrative waste and excessive costs, protection from insurance company abuses, and improvements in the quality of care.
c. Implement the law to the benefit of the public, through campaigns on regulations and state laws.
d. Address and improve the shortcomings of the law, most significantly:
- Cover abortion care and contraception the same as any other medical event. Defuse the controversy over this issue and destigmatize the conversation.
- Cover undocumented residents and all individuals for the costs of health care, as a matter of human rights, reciprocal fairness for the treatment of Americans abroad, and good public health practice.
- Improve the affordability of health care.
- Recognize and aim to replicate the success of all other economically developed nations and many developing nations at controlling health care costs by invoking the authority of the government to negotiate prices with powerful health care industries including drug companies, hospitals and health care professionals. This includes expanding the role of local initiatives to provide publicly-financed and publicly-provided health care services, as well as broader initiatives to create state-based single payer systems.
The EQUAL Health Network’s listserve will continue to disseminate news and opinions consistent with these views, and provide a discussion blog for debate on how best to achieve them, at http://equalhealth.info/discuss/?pEQUAL =28