Sister Carol Keehan isn't wasting any time. Coverage for the nation's more than 45 million uninsured ought to be the issue for politicians in the 2008 presidential electionâalthough she's pushing for faster reform. "If we haven't charted a new course in two years, I would hope it would be the central issue," she says.
Keehan, 62, who succeeded the Rev. Michael Place last October as president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association, St. Louis, inherited Place's drive to put reform at the forefront of the national agenda. Place left his post saying the need to address the nation's uninsured was a "moral obligation"; Keehan recently dubbed the uninsured an "intolerable" moral and economic problem.
Keehan, who led 522-bed Providence Hospital, Washington, for 15 years and served six years on CHA's board of directors, knows the ins and outs of taking her case to Congress. This time, she has set her sights on the voting public as an ally.
"I think it's going to have to be clear that the American people insist that something be done," Keehan says.