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News Release

UM SPH community comments on historic health care reform legislation

March 22, 2010, news release from the University of Michigan School of Public Health

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The American Public Health Association's statement of March 21, 2010, applauded the U.S. House of Representatives “for its historic vote today to reform our nation’s health system,” noting that passage of the measure will strengthen the nation’s public health system and invest in prevention, among other achievements.

UM SPH faculty and extended community members had these reactions:

Ken WarnerKen Warner,
Dean and Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor
"Sunday night’s vote in the House of Representatives certainly is an historic one. Little appreciated is that the developers of Medicare and Medicaid saw those programs as desirable primarily because they would be a 'foot in the door' of national health insurance covering all Americans. Some 45 years and 8 administrations later, the door has been shoved open. This is an occasion for public health celebration."

Paula LantzPaula Lantz,
Chair and S.J. Axelrod Collegiate Professor of Health Management and Policy
"The main components of health care reform legislation include bold and meaningful changes to health insurance coverage and the health insurance industry in the U.S. From a public health perspective, we should celebrate that an estimated 32 million more Americans will have health insurance coverage as a result of this legislation. However, we know that simply having health insurance does not ensure access to quality clinical services in a timely manner. We also know that health insurance reform is not the same thing as 'health reform' because medical care is only one of the many things that creates healthy individuals in healthy communities. As such, we need to celebrate this historic expansion of health insurance coverage, and to use it as a catalyst towards additional reforms that are needed to realize actual improvements in population health."

Marc ZimmermanMarc Zimmerman,
Chair of Health Behavior and Health Education and Director of the Prevention Research Center of Michigan
"Congress has finally acted on long overdue legislation to reform our health care system. While the legislation has much to be desired, it will help thrust prevention and chronic disease management into the forefront of health care delivery in the U.S. It's about time. Now we can begin catching up with other industrialized countries and maybe eventually lead the world in reducing costs by reducing morbidity."

Sharon KardiaSharon Kardia,
Chair of Epidemiology and Director of Public Health Genetics and Life Sciences & Society programs

"Rarely do we get a chance to see our place in historical time, to be part of a movement that will so clearly affects millions, and to witness the collective power of people dedicated to raising the bar for human equity. It was a proud day to be an American celebrating the most fundamental of public health values."

Howard HuHoward Hu, NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, and Internal Medicine
"The ramifications of health reform for environmental health will be as great as they are for any other aspect of public health and medicine. Removing barriers to seek advice, evaluation and management of occupational and environmental disease risks will improve lives while enabling our economy and industries to recover in a sustainable way."

Trivellore Raghunathan,
Chair of Biostatistics

"A system to provide health care access to all persons living in the U.S. has been long overdue. It is terrific that we have embarked on this journey, despite severe opposition and misinformation. It is also not surprising that we have laid the blueprint for universal coverage in a quintessential American way: 'regulated market economy.' However, there is a long road ahead. We have to contain our health care costs and change our spending with more emphasis on preventive services. We also need good data series to monitor and analyze our health care expenditures. Federal agencies such as AHRQ and NCHS should be asked to develop national data collection series to allow for dissection of our spending, and the corresponding benefits, to make informed policy decisions."

Marianne Udow-PhillipsMarianne Udow-Phillips,
UM SPH Alumna and Director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation
“I am thrilled we have, as of today, comprehensive health care reform. People across the country will benefit almost immediately as barriers to needed care drop -- people who have been excluded from health coverage because they got sick; people who are poor but haven't been eligible for Medicaid because they don't fit the Medicaid categories; young people who can now stay on their parent's policies until they are 26; seniors who need drug coverage and now fall into the 'donut hole'; people in small and large group plans who haven't been able to afford their deductibles or their share of premiums. The bill is a starting point and a foundation. There will be a lot more to unfold over the next several years -- but now is time for celebration and hope that we will finally achieve universal access to care for all Americans."

Rich Lichtenstein,
Associate Professor and Director of Summer Enrichment Program in Health Management and Policy
"The passage of the health insurance reform bill represents a giant leap forward for the U.S. health care system and for the American people. Even though it doesn’t include many of the attributes that advocates of comprehensive health care reform sought, this legislation will improve access to care and the health status of millions of Americans. The passage of this legislation represents the culmination of decades of work by public health professionals and progressive government officials. Like the mythical Sisyphus, who was condemned eternally to repeat the task of rolling a boulder up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down before he reached the summit, health care advocates have been thwarted, time after time, in their quest to achieve universal health coverage for the U.S. On March 21, 2010, President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the millions of Americans who have fought courageously for health reform got that boulder over the top of the hill and now the American people are going to enjoy the benefits of reaching the other side.

Peter JacobsonPeter Jacobson,
Professor of Health Management and Policy and Director of the Center for Law, Ethics, and Health

"By any measure, the enactment of health insurance reform is an historic occasion. Long-time supporters of health reform should justly celebrate the movement toward our goal of ensuring access to health care for everyone. Hard work certainly remains to convince a skeptical public of its merits and to implement the legislation effectively. But for now, it's time to celebrate a major achievement."

George KaplanGeorge Kaplan,
Thomas Francis Collegiate Emeritus Professor of Public Health
"The House of Representatives took the first step in ensuring that the U.S. does not continue to be 'left behind' in making health care available to all. But the fixes to the dysfunctional system are only a start, and there will be much pushback based on money and ideology. Even if those are repelled, much more needs to be done to prevent poor health and disparities in health. Ensuring good education, strong and resilient communities, decent work, income security, and a strong and compassionate safety net lie at the heart of disease prevention."

Nancy JanzNancy Janz
Professor and Associate Chair of Health Behavior and Health Education and Associate Director of the Center for Managing Chronic Disease

"So glad to see the United States is moving forward in health care reform. As we devote efforts in public health to prevention as well as the management of chronic disease, it is wonderful to know the bill allows people with pre-existing conditions greater possibilities for affordable insurance."

Toby CitrinToby Citrin,
SPH Adjunct Professor and Director of the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics
"This is indeed a historical moment -- on a par with some of the New Deal legislation, Medicare, and the Civil Rights legislation. As a child during the '40s I came home one day and looked at the day's mail on my Dad's desk, and found a postcard with the bold black letters reading 'Communism Coming to America.' It was a card from the American Medical Association calling on constituents to get their members of Congress to vote 'no' on the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill to bring universal health care to the U.S. This was John Dingell's father. It's sure been a long time coming!"

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Contact: Terri Mellow, director of communications
Phone: (734) 764-8094