America’s Health Care: At a Critical Crossroads

NCHC Writer
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The nation’s health care system is in need of serious repair. Health care spending is rising more than double the rate of inflation.

      Millions of Americans are uninsured. Millions more who have health insurance currently worry they won’t be able to afford it when they lose or leave their jobs. Today, the overwhelming majority of the uninsured are from families where someone is employed full- or part-time.

      In addition, serious questions have been raised about the quality of care and the efficiency with which care is delivered. Our nation surpasses other developed nations in technology, yet the health status of our people has not proportionally improved. The quality of health care is being brought into question by distressingly high error rates in diagnosis and treatment. Consumers fear that quality health care has been compromised, costs are rising and coverage decreasing.

      America’s health care stands at a critical crossroads. It’s time we, as a nation, make an informed decision about where to go from here. Important trends, such as serious problems in quality, continued escalation of costs and increases in the number of uninsured Americans highlight the need for renewed discussion and workable solutions.

      A sustained, vigorous health care dialogue requires honest communication and consensus. Since health care involves individuals and families, businesses, big and small, and state and federal governments, the future of the nation’s health is at stake.

    Speaking with One Voice

      Escalating health care costs impact all of us-the federal government, the private sector and American families. Individuals and families particularly are feeling the strain of shouldering more of the health costs directly. For many, their take-home pay grows more slowly and their standard of living stagnates. There seems to be no reassuring end in sight. These health care concerns affect all people regardless of political, generational, economic, gender or ethnic boundaries.

      America’s strained health care system is everyone’s concern and we must all make it a priority to bring high quality, affordable and accessible health care into the national agenda.

      To that end, the National Coalition on Health Care has established a powerful, nonpartisan effort to build understanding of the magnitude of the problem in quality of care, rising costs and decreasing coverage. In our quest “for America’s health,” there are no single vested interests, only collective concerns.

      The National Coalition on Health Care is the nation’s largest and most broadly representative alliance working to improve America’s health care. Almost 100 leadership organizations, representing 100 million Americans, have joined this nonpartisan effort. As diverse as these groups are, they stand united in finding a solution to assure quality, contain costs, maintain access, and encourage choice in a competitive marketplace.

      Counted among the Coalition’s members are large and small businesses, labor unions, religious groups, consumer advocates, insurers and the nation’s primary care providers and academic health centers. Some of the nation’s most distinguished leaders from academia, business and government have also pledged their support of the Coalition’s efforts. And we’re honored that two of the nation’s former Presidents from both sides of the political spectrum have come together to serve as honorary co-chairs, elevating this issue beyond politics as usual.

    Setting the Nation’s Agenda for Action

      Supported by its members and generous grants from the W.K. Kellogg, Henry J. Kaiser Family and Robert Wood Johnson foundations, the Coalition has launched a multi-year education campaign on the realities and challenges of the health care system.

      What is our role in ensuring that any change in the system addresses the interrelated problems of quality, cost and access f or both government and the private sector? How can we safeguard our health care delivery and quality of care? How are government, industry and the American family coping? What is happening in the world of insurance coverage and employer-based coverage? Is the cost of health care rising or falling? How vulnerable are special populations from the very young to the very old? How difficult is it for people with physical and economic challenges?

      Through the Coalition’s leadership, this national dialogue will take place in big cities and small towns across the country through:

  • a consumer education campaign to assist Americans in better understanding the health care system and to make more informed decisions about their care;
  • quantitative and qualitative polls to take the pulse of the public’s attitudes and perceptions of the health care system;
  • commissioned studies to provide research-based information impacting policy and legislation with a total look at how health care affects individuals, families, business, the economy, and the nation;
  • a series of symposia at the Presidential Libraries to provide thoughtful discussion of the history of America’s health care system and its impact on future policy initiatives;
  • business round tables to allow industry leaders to share their national and regional business strategies for responding to health care concerns.