I just want to say one thing to all of you who are worried: Health reform is NOT dead. Seven hundred health reform advocates descended on DC last week to attend Families USA's annual conference, and everyone here is re-energized and ready to tell Congress and tell the President that the time is now to pass health reform.
Brian Smedley from the Health Policy Institute and Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies moderated the discussion and Chinwe Onyekere from Project HEALTH and Carol Bryant Payne from the Department of Housing and Urban Development shared how they approached this issue and some of the success they've had.
My grandparents are monumentally confused about health care reform. And rightfully so-opponents of health reform have told them that they're going to lose their Medicare, and that they will have to defend their life in front of a death panel.
Today, at the Families USA Health Action Conference, I attended a workshop that gave me information that will assuage my grandparent's fears. Speakers at the Medicare after Health Reform workshop outlined how Medicare will really change with reform: How the claims of opponents are far from the truth.
Health Action 2010 has so many great workshops that it's hard to figure out where to start! After an amazing plenary presentation with great speeches from Sec. Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Al Franken, Representative Donna Edwards, and a moving tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy's contributions to the health reform movement, I wanted to hear what different advocates were doing on the ground to get health reform across the finish line.
In a word, the general mood at the opening plenary was "optimistic." Senator Al Franken remarked, "this isn't a funeral," and HHS Secretary Kathleen Seblius said, "We're at the one-yard line. We've received a penalty but the game is still on!" According to the advocates around the room, the game is, indeed, still on.
With the possibility of an expanded Medicaid population imminent, how will newly-eligible people receive care? Will there be enough health care providers and facilities to treat them?
Deborah Kilstein from the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, Claudine Swartz from the National Association of Public Hospitals, and Phil Villers from Families USA, along with over 40 advocates from across the country, tackled this tough subject, and explored innovative strategies to increase access to care.
In the holiday classic Home Alone, Kevin McCallister is petrified of his next door neighbor, "Old Man" Marley. That is, until the end of the movie, when he actually takes the time to get to know him. "Old Man" Marley turns out to be a kind man with a good heart. We've all learned lessons like this, where we've found out the hard way that our fears or judgments are false. The same is actually true for health reform.
Whether it is an obsession with town halls, vote counting, or negotiations, much of the focus during this health reform debate has not been on the actual human reasons why reform is so important.
Let's get us back to reality, at least for a quick second.
MLR: Those three letters seem like an acronym for an obscure tropical disease, but we promise this won't hurt a bit. MLR stands for Medial Loss Ratio. The technical term may be a snooze-inducer, but stick with us for a moment longer.
Imagine you went to a change machine, put a dollar in, and only got back 75 cents. Well, a medical loss ratio can be similar.
Health reform has never been easy. That lesson has come up throughout this year's legislative process - as if decades of failed reforms had not yet made that clear.
Health reform, however, is an imperative for our nation's families. Without reform, health costs will continue to grow much faster than wages. Without reform, many millions of hard-working people and their families will join the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.