Divided We Fail

“We believe all of us share a responsibility for making our society work,” the AARP literature said. We must “work together to find solutions.”

The Association for Retired Persons has a new campaign.  Just in time for the campaign season.  But this campaign is unlike one you might see from a candidate. It is a campaign calling all of us to work together.

AARP is asking legislators to sign a pledge to work together across party lines to solve the problems we face – especially health care.  This is one pledge I don’t mind signing; I could not agree more.

AARP is joined in its efforts by unlikely allies; the Service Employees Union, the Business Round Table and the National Federation of Independent Business. Not traditional friends but these groups are leading by example.

And the timing could not be better.

As the economy takes a down turn, people are concerned about losing health care benefits. And as the cost of everything goes up, people are finding it more difficult to cope with rising health care costs.

UW- Eau Claire researchers released a study last week showing evidence that health care reform is on the minds of nearly every one in Western Wisconsin. “Over 90% of respondents said that it is extremely or very important for Wisconsin to make health care affordable and accessible to all,” reported researcher Professor Eric Jamelske.

“The concern expressed by residents of the region translates into a significant call for reform,” continued Professor Jamelske who is a member of the Economics Department faculty at UW Eau Claire.

Other results from the study showed that a majority of respondents see major problems with the health care system. People agree that losing employer sponsored health care is a major problem; people feel strongly that we should reduce the number of uninsured; and they are concerned about insurance company profits.

Ninety four percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that all Wisconsinites should have access to the same basic health care. “These results can serve as a voice of the people to inform policy makers as they debate health care reform in Wisconsin,” said Jennifer Johs-Aridensi a professor in the UW – Eau Claire Health Care Administration Program.

To solve our health care problems we must first learn about the problem and the options for change. I was impressed to see that 12% of those responding to the survey had attended a Town Hall meeting on health care. Town Hall meetings provide an excellent chance for folks to become informed on the options for change.

I continue to conduct Town Hall meetings to provide an opportunity for public input. I have conducted over 30 meetings and received many ideas, many questions and much encouragement. This past week I presented an award to the 1,000th person attending one of my Town Hall meetings.

When people learn the details of how to fix health care, they are optimistic because they see there are solutions. Difficult decisions will need to be made but we cannot move forward until we agree to work together to solve problems. Divided we will fail.

This is why the AARP campaign could not have happened at a better time. We cannot fail. The problems we face are too great and affect every one of us.

Have ideas on how to get the job done? Let me know!