The 2008 elections are a historic opportunity for every American to make certain healthcare stays at the top of the candidates domestic agendas. The presidential race is wide open; for the first time in 80 years, no incumbent president or vice president is in the running. At the same time, 33 senators will be elected, along with the entire House of Representatives. Next November, we can consolidate the political power needed to make change a reality.
Now, more than ever, Americans understand and feel the need for that change. Forty-seven million Americans currently lack healthcare coverage. An estimated 133 million peoplenearly half of the populationsuffer from at least one chronic illness, and many of them dont get the care they need. Health insurance premiums have risen 78% since 2001, outpacing both general inflation and growth in workers earnings.
No one is more aware of the healthcare problems our patients and communities face than the women and men of the nations hospitals and other healthcare organizations. We must use our powers of community leadership to be certain that every candidate is educated on the issues and on the record in support of change. If we work with others at the community level, we can plant the seeds for a future of better health and better healthcare with a system that values wellness and coordination of care for all.
Hospital leaders will be encouraged to meet with candidates, talk about what kinds of changes could improve healthcare in their communities and find out where candidates stand on the key issues. Specifically, the American Hospital Association is calling on health leaders to ask four important questions: