Quentin D. Young, M.D., M.S., APHA President-Elect, 1997, and APHA President, 1998

Improving Access to Health Care

First, a comment on incrementalism. We should not refuse small gains, but we should recognize the perils of incrementalism. There is a great crisis in the health care system – a moral crisis, an ethical crisis of tremendous profundity. It’s destroying as it is going forward. I would argue that the national conscience is out there. Whether we like it or not, whatever strengths we had – and we have a lot, we’re really not the giants who will do this so we are going to have to grow fast. I profoundly believe in recapturing the ethical essence, which is embodied in public health practice and in science, of altruism, of dedication, of public service. These ideals are not common in our society, let alone our health system. These are our strengths. But we have an enormous task to challenge to get to centerstage, given the powerful economic and political forces. But it’s a battle we’re forced into. We have no choice. I am very confident we can win because of the superiority of our position.

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