Watching the President in Tuscon on Wedsnesday evening, I was struck by how far afield we have gone from a united federation. Why is this important to our mission and our Center? Because Christina-Taylor Green is the child of each of us, who believes that America is safe. The local newspaper printed an editorial cartoon that broke my heart that day: Christina, a 9-year-old exemplary student, went to visit her Congresswoman on January 8 to learn how our political system works (and then a smoking hat from Uncle Sam). That’s not the picture of America I want for my kids, nor for yours.
I wrote a note to some close friends that evening, and one shared it with the local paper. Will it become a letter to the editor? I don’t know. What I do know is this: $2.7Trillion is more than enough to bring health resources to all of our citizens. $2.7Trillion is more than enough for every child to have pediatric care, immunizations, and a healthy, safe childhood. $2.7Trillion is more than enough for quality clinicians, hospitals without infections, and info technology that links centers of distinction across the country and the world. $2.7Trillion is more than enough to ensure that our workforce is healthy and that our companies and our families do not go bankrupt for unexpected health care expenses, more than enough that we are never #37 on a list for quality and safety again.
We can do better, and we have shown many cases of new evidence that re-thinking the barriers, and removing the impediments to quality, clinically-relevant and financially efficient health care is not a dream, it’s a reality. Health Affairs continues to publish new data on this (Gibson, et al, http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/1/100.full), and we continue to push boundaries with our Outcomes-Based Contracting™ endeavors.
Mental health is the issue here. The system failed us, and it failed Christina and her parents. The accused shooter had a history of mental illness. Did he attempt to get help? Not sure…but there were signals throughout his life, and the $2.7Trillion holds enough to help him and his family.
We cannot turn away from the fact that our security and financial structures are bending under the strain of the enormous costs of health care in this country despite the efforts to provide for all. We can compare our total costs with those of other countries see that they are getting more value for their dollars. We can compare our total costs between companies here in America and see that some are getting much more value for their dollars.
This is why the Center exists: to innovate and publish and educate about the successes and, yes, the challenges of building healthy communities and worksites and hospitals and care providers and families. Yes, we are focused on the business community. That’s because a lot of innovation in products comes from this community, but also because it’s where America works, and America working is what we all want to see. That’s why we are in relentless pursuit of innovation in benefit design that accelerates engagement, improves accountability, and creates replicable predictive cost trends, because with these, we can plan for our futures, including those of our children.
So let’s come together, as one country, to be respectful of ideas, concepts, values. Let’s tone down the noise and listen, instead, to the common goals, appreciating that each of us may take a different path but achieve similar outcomes. Let’s reach back and pull the more frail–even if they are frail with mental illness–along with us, soothing their pain and helping them heal.
Let’s never let another life be lost due to our deafening refusal to consider another point of view. Let’s not let Christina’s life, one very important child among many, go unfulfilled. Out of many, one. E Pluribus Unum.