Daschle: “Health reform that goes from the grassroots up”

by Dave Rochelson

WASHINGTON (RushPRnews)12/11/08-Since we first announced our health care community discussions last week, more than a thousand people have signed up to lead one — with at least one scheduled in each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico. Hundreds more have signed up in just the few hours since the announcement of Senator Tom Daschle as Secretary-designate of Health and Human Services.


Sign up to lead a health care discussion in your community
The discussion leaders come from every walk of life — patients and their family members, doctors, nurses, and small business owners. They’ve indicated a broad range of interests, saying they plan to focus their discussions on everything from expanding coverage and preventive care to controlling costs and increasing access to care.

“We live in a rural area,” Janet from Idaho wrote, “and many of our chlldren do not get the medical attention they need; many of our seniors have difficulty making ends meet, let alone buying prescriptions. And we have a significant disabled population who have suffered cuts in Medicaid. Essentially no one can afford medical attention.”

We also asked people to indicate why they think Secretary-designate Daschle should attend their meeting. In response, Ruben from California wrote, “Really?”

In short: yes, really. While the Transition’s Health Policy Team will be incorporating input from all of the discussions into its recommendations for the administration, Secretary-designate Daschle will be choosing several of the discussions to attend in person in the next few weeks.

Robert from Indiana wrote, “Our neighbors include a broad and diverse cross-section of America. Within a few miles we have steel mills, inner cities, suburbs, and farms….We are theologically … and politically diverse…. Our event will demonstrate to Senator Daschle the level of understanding among Americans regarding the need for access [to health care] by all Americans, and ideas for achieving that goal.”

Elizabeth from South Carolina wrote, “The food and coffee will be delicious!” She added that her community could “show everyone that even the true middle class is really struggling with this issue.”

“We can present Senator Daschle with an honest appraisal of the health care crisis from [the] ‘boots on the ground,'” Don from Ohio wrote. “Too, often, academics and policy makers do not know how the system really functions. Similar to the military, it often helps to have the generals see the actual conditions on the battlefield to appreciate the difficulty the foot soldiers experience.”

At the press conference this morning, Secretary-designate Daschle emphasized how important he thinks it is to draw ideas from these community discussions.

“The President-elect and I are committed to an open and inclusive process for health reform that goes from the grassroots up,” he said. “I’ll be attending some of these discussions, seeing the ideas generated by others, and look forward to reporting back to you on what we find.”

A Clarification
Judging from some of the submissions we’ve seen, we wanted to clarify something. There is no signup process on this website to attend an event — just to host one. We’ll provide you with a special moderator kit, including everything you need to get the conversation going. But it’s up to you, the discussion leader, to invite your friends and members of your community to join you. Health care reform will come from the grassroots, and we’re counting on you to take the lead in your communities.