Health care is, broadly speaking a local good, just like Senator Tip O’Neill used to say about politics: that “all politics is local.” Secretary of Health and Human Kathlees Sebelius launched the website The Heatlh Care Status Quo on the HealthReform.Gov portal, profiling each of the 50 States and their current level of health care and “need for health reform,” according to the Secretary.

We learn about a medical bankruptcy case in South Florida through the eyes of Dorothy Carmone, a self-employed cancer patient. Health care for Dorothy, and for all of us, is personal.

Each state profile details level of insured and uninsured, percent of incomes spent on health care, health status (e.g., % obesity), health plan competition, access to care and services, and other metrics.

Based on these data, the “hot point” is summarized in terms of, “Why (Fill-in-the-State-Name) Needs Health Reform.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The DHHS and President Obama’s team have entered the Health Reform PR Wars. While for the short-term, Michael Jackson’s death and other celebrity news items have filled the airwaves and public mindshare, the lobbying efforts on all sides of health reform will heat up after the Congressional recess. This website is one aspect of the Health Reform Reality Show.

As a data junkie and industry analyst, I love the site. Many health policy wonks will. The level of detail is useful and well-researched. However, I’m not sure it’s going to resonate with many health citizens for whom, as Tip said, “health care is local.”

Health care is not just local — it’s personal. In the Stakeholder Discussions tab under “Forums,” you can find reports from in-person meetings held around the U.S. What would resonate with Real People would be online discussions where people could leave their personal, up-close-and-personal, 360-degree stories about their experiences with the U.S. health system. These stories would together piece the patchwork quilt of Participatory Healthcare: patients’ voices from around the nation stating their case, filling in the blanks that policymakers seem blind to. Or constrained by the lobbying fray =— the fear of the camel’s nose — whatever.

The Health Status Quo is that The American People — the health citizen, health consumer, caregiver, sick child, young adult with cancer — still aren’t integrated into policy. We won’t get to person-centered care that works for all until we’re woven into the fabric of policy.

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