A new coalition, made up mostly of front-line caregivers and the healthcare systems that employ them, last week kick-started a lobbying mission to ensure every American has health coverage and access to affordable, quality care.
But achieving success is likely to take a few years, and absent a solid proposal from the group, maybe even longer, industry experts said.
The group, the Partnership for Quality Care, has banked $5 million in startup funds and joins a growing list of coalitions that want to close the coverage gap and improve access. But a majority of these groups so far do so armed only with a list of principles, not an actual plan, health policy analysts have said. Without something more solid, success will likely be tempered.
This new group, however, is counting on the broader support of actual front-line healthcare workers, from CEOs to CNAs, said Dennis Rivera, president of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union/United Healthcare Workers East. The voice of the people who provide care (will be) heard, he said.
Members of the coalition say reducing the number of uninsuredestimated to be 44.8 millionis tied directly to quality, given that the uninsured tend to delay seeking care. The outcome of care (for the uninsured) is not as good as if they had received primary care in the right setting at the right time, said George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanentewhich participates in the coalitionat a news conference.
We see every day what happens when patients do not get the care they need, or they receive care late, after diseases have progressed and prevention is no longer as effective, said Robert Issai, president and CEO of the Daughters of Charity Health System, Los Altos Hills, Calif. Universal healthcare is critically important for the people and communities we serve.
The group, which also includes Allina Hospitals & Clinics, Minneapolis; Catholic Healthcare West, San Francisco; the Greater New York Hospital Association; and the SEIU, plans to work with elected officials nationally and locally to help secure universal health coverage. The groups immediate focus will be to press Congress to expand the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
The partnership joins an already crowded field for reformers that includes coalitions like Better Health Care Together, which also includes the SEIU, and the Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured, which also includes Kaiser (Feb. 12, p. 12).
While few would argue with the partnerships message or its goals, the reality is that without a specific plan on how to achieve it, presumably Capitol Hill staffers will give it little attention. I think their motives are excellent, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA and a major driver behind the Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured, referring to the coalitions. But I think theyre more thematic and most of them are geared towards doing something in the longer term.