|Spring 2010||Volume 25, Number 2||Findings Magazine|
In March 2010, President Obama signed legislation to overhaul the nation’s health care system and provide medical insurance to an estimated 30 million Americans who currently lack coverage. UM SPH faculty and extended community members had the following reactions. More faculty comments and health reform links.
"Little appreciated is that the developers of Medicare and Medicaid saw those programs as desirable primarily because they would be a ‘foot in the door’ of national health insurance covering all Americans. Some 45 years and eight administrations later, the door has been shoved open. This is an occasion for public health celebration."
"The ramifications of health reform for environmental health will be as great as they are for any other aspect of public health and medicine. Removing barriers to seek advice, evaluation and management of occupational and environmental disease risks will improve lives while enabling our economy and industries to recover in a sustainable way. "
"Rarely do we get a chance to see our place in historical time, to be part of a movement that will so clearly affect millions, and to witness the collective power of people dedicated to raising the bar for human equity. It was a proud day to be an American celebrating the most fundamental of public health values. "
"From a public health perspective, we should celebrate that an estimated 32 million more Americans will have health insurance coverage as a result of this legislation. However, we know that simply having health insurance does not ensure access to quality clinical services in a timely manner. We also know that health insurance reform is not the same thing as ‘health reform,’ because medical care is only one of the many things that creates healthy individuals in healthy communities. As such, we need to celebrate this historic expansion of health insurance coverage, and to use it as a catalyst towards additional reforms that are needed to realize actual improvements in population health."
It is terrific that we have embarked on this journey, despite severe opposition and misinformation. However, there is a long road ahead. We have to contain our health care costs and change our spending with more emphasis on preventive services. We also need good data series to monitor and analyze our health care expenditures. Federal agencies such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Center for Health Statistics should be asked to develop national data collection series to allow for dissection of our spending, and the corresponding benefits, to make informed policy decisions.
"Congress has finally acted on long overdue legislation to reform our health care system. While the legislation has much to be desired, it will help thrust prevention and chronic disease management into the forefront of health care delivery in the U.S. It's about time. Now we can begin catching up with other industrialized countries and maybe eventually lead the world in reducing costs by reducing morbidity."
"So glad to see the U.S. is moving forward in health care reform. As we devote efforts in public health to prevention as well as the management of chronic disease, it is wonderful to know the bill allows people with pre-existing conditions greater possibilities for affordable insurance.
"The passage of this legislation represents the culmination of decades of work by public health professionals and progressive government officials. Like the mythical Sisyphus, who was condemned eternally to repeat the task of rolling a boulder up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down before he reached the summit, health care advocates have been thwarted, time after time, in their quest to achieve universal health coverage for the U.S. On March 21, 2010, President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the millions of Americans who have fought courageously for health reform got that boulder over the top of the hill, and now the American people are going to enjoy the benefits of reaching the other side."
"The bill is a starting point and a foundation. There will be a lot more to unfold over the next several years—but now is time for celebration and hope that we will finally achieve universal access to care for all Americans."
Photo at left: U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) visited the School of Public Health on April 5 to talk about health care reform. She noted that two provisions in the bill--valued-based insurance design and a nationwide network of depression centers--stemmed directly from UM initiatives.
Young people benefit from health reform partly because they won't be denied coverage because of preexisiting conditions.
Homegrown: UM's concept of Value-based Insurance Design included in U.S. health care reform law. The UM-based VBID center provided the conceptual foundation and empirical research to allow health plans nationwide to remove barriers for high-value preventive diagnostic and therapeutic medical services.