We agree on health care policy solutions more than we think

For more than 50 years, the Michigan Universal Health Care Action Network (MichUHCAN), a nonprofit education and advocacy organization, has worked to secure a health care system that covers everyone, is affordable, has broad benefits and high-quality services, and is easy to use.

Health care delivery has become a politically charged issue. A person’s attitudes on any changes in funding or delivery of health care are more determined by their political affiliation than facts.

A few years ago, our organization collaborated with an advocacy group of physicians from different states who are promoting changes to health care financing and delivery. We call our group USA Healthcare.

We quickly observed that people were talking past each other and becoming increasingly fearful and angry when engaged in health care discussions, often returning to the “talking points” of their chosen political party.

We decided to tackle this communication stalemate. Our efforts resulted in a values framework for a health care delivery system. Health care should be universal, simple and affordable. If we could get Americans to agree on the health care values they desired, then perhaps these values could be used to develop and evaluate policy proposals.

To test our thesis, USA Healthcare group funded two polls conducted by marketing students from a major university. One poll targeted Democrats and the other highlighted Republicans. The Republican poll yielded some surprising results.

Respondents clearly believe our health care system needs to change (85%). They also said health care should be universal (70%), simple (95%) and affordable (99%).

What struck our board is the consensus around the values/goals between our two polls. It would appear we could be more “us” rather than “we vs. them” in this country regarding needed changes to the health care funding and delivery system if we engage outside the political pressure cooker.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to develop health care policies based on the needs and desires of the people, rather than political ideologies?

Marjorie J. Mitchell, executive director


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