An Important Independence Day Message

bfp_0128_umbdenstockAs we stand on the verge of debating actual health reform legislation instead of simply theoretical ideas, I thought it important to share this message from Rich Umdenstock, the president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, that just appeared in AHA News.  Rich makes an important point about the need for reform that addresses America’s healthcare challenges without undermining the system’s strengths.  Or, as he said, “if reform leaves our health infrastructure seriously weakened or destabilized, it is no one’s victory.”

As we celebrate the birth of our nation and its individual liberties, Americans grapple with two fears that dwell heavily – economic stability and health security. Our economy is vulnerable. People have felt the impact on their jobs, their savings and their mortgages. At the same time, the increasing cost of care, shrinking coverage and decreasing access also weigh on them. For those with financial stability and health security, there’s much for which to be grateful. For those without them, they need our support and leadership.

The weeks ahead will test our national character as well as our field’s courage and commitment. Soon, all of the reform concepts and proposals will gel into legislation. Then the real work of lawmaking begins. In this process, everyone is a “special interest” because health care, like no other subject or sector, touches all. The numbers are large, the details innumerable and the political viewpoints wide and varied.

Like the convictions of America’s founders, the nation’s hospitals will never waver from ours, that coverage for all is the number one goal of health care reform and that all must share this responsibility. But if reform leaves our health infrastructure seriously weakened or destabilized, it is no one’s victory. To bring coverage to millions and then usher them into a system unable to meet their needs will be everyone’s loss. The roots of our nation’s hospitals run deep into our communities and the AHA believes, as you do, that reform must hold out the promise of better health and health care for all.

Thank you for your support. Have a safe and peaceful Independence Day as you reflect on our shared pride in America.