Improving Access to Health Care
APHA has long played the leadership role in efforts to get health care access for the entire U.S. population. Universal coverage is a beginning, but there are many other aspects of people’s coverage and their ability to get health care that provide for access.
When I first joined APHA in 1975, it was very involved in struggles to get national health insurance or a national health service in this country. I was very impressed with that struggle and participated in it, and learned much in the process. When Ruth Roemer was president in 1987, she appointed me as Action Board chair. The struggle for national health insurance was then one of the major thrusts of APHA. In 1993, when Helen Rodriguez-Trias was president I was working in the White House on national health insurance and national health care reform. There were many of us who were APHA members who were working in the White House on that effort and a number of us who had formed a single-payer group within the Health Care Reform Task Force. That, of course, failed.
I am very happy to report that this year, under APHA’s leadership, again, we have enacted the first significant expansion of government-subsidized health insurance coverage in the United States in more than 30 years, providing $24 million over the next 5 years to help cover up to 5 million children. That is only the beginning. It is only a first step. It is undoubtedly policy that will be pushed forward by the future APHA leaders.