Four health-related organizations and the AARP are joining forces to pressure presidential candidates to make promises to reform the nation’s health care system. Leaders of the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association are in Iowa today, riding a bus to 12 presidential campaign offices in Des Moines to drop off their demands in writing.
Dr. John Seffrin, the CEO of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, says their message is that to be a serious candidate for the presidency, that candidate must offer a plan to “fix” the nation’s “broken” health care system. Seffrin says they want health care reform to be the number one domestic issue in the presidential campaign.
According to Seffrin, one in eight cancer patients in the U.S. is uninsured. “We not only have 47 million Americans with no health insurance, but we have millions more that have insurance but they’re underinsured,” Seffrin says. “So when they face one of the chronic diseases…they may not get the care they need.”
Michael Farley, the CEO of the American Diabetes Association, says the five groups involved represent 21 million Americans. “This is a great day because we have five organizations coming together to create and reinforce a presidential campaign agenda about quality health care, affordable health care coverage for every American,” Farley says.
In addition to affordability, red tape and lack of access are key issues for the groups, according to Farley. “We face different challenges as five different organizations, but we are united all of the same values…on health care reform,” Farley says. The plight of the underinsured is just as troublesome of the uninsured, according to Farley.
“Did you know, for example, that 50 percent of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills, but two-thirds of those are actually because they’ve had inappropriate health insurance to cover those needs?” Farley asks. Activists from the Cancer Society and the Diabetes Association as well as the American Heart Association and Alzheimer’s Association were along for the bus ride today, too.
Similar events were held in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — the states which host the opening events of the 2008 presidential nominating season.