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Connecting quality health care with economics
A few weeks before the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama, a handful of groups started a television advertising campaign reminding the new administration and Congress of an important national issue—affordable, quality health care. And while other concerns may be dwarfed by the country’s current economic problems, the ad campaign linked affordable health care to a healthy economy. The ads ran from early January through early February.
The groups behind the campaign include the American Cancer Society’s advocacy arm, ACS Cancer Action Network, the American Medical Association, and four other organizations representing a consumer group, a labor union, a lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry, and an insurance company. John R. Seffrin, PhD, the chief executive officer of the ACS and ACS CAN, says that proposing solutions to the health care crisis wasn’t the purpose of the campaign. Instead, it was to send a clear message to policymakers that health care is still a top issue.
“Here are six very diverse organizations—and, indeed, on specific issues from time to time [they] do not agree,” Seffrin says, but “all six organizations agree that comprehensive, systemic health care reform is necessary and needs to be done.”
With the cost of health care becoming a larger portion of the country’s gross domestic product, Seffrin says the two issues can’t be separated. “We believe they need to couple them. It will make the [economic] stimulus package more likely to succeed if we fix the broken health care system.”
The ACS has stated that even cancer patients with insurance are often left financially depleted after paying for treatment. Seffrin hopes that by helping the public and the new administration view the issue through what he calls the “cancer lens” it will increase the pressure for health care reform.
“It’s pretty clear that we’re in a whole different place today than where we were in 1993 in the Clinton administration when the last health care reform was attempted.”