Let’s change the conversation and put healthcare over  politics. 

Sounds just right, doesn’t it? If you’re reading Health Populi, then you’re keen on health policy, health economics, most of all, patients: now playing starring roles as consumers, caregivers, and payors in their own care.

Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has assembled a diverse group of health care leaders who care about those patients/people, too, appropriately named the United States of Care. Founders include Dr. Bill Frist, former Republican U.S. Senator from Tennessee, Dave Durenberger, former Republican U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and Steve Beshear, former Democratic Governor of Kentucky, among other influentials. The Founders Council of advisors includes activists and actors, ex-government health care managers, health industry executives, and innovators, including Mark Cuban, the entrepreneur; Todd Park (father of “Data Liberacion!”); Ian Morrison (my mentor from our days at Institute for the Future); Margaret Laws (President of HopeLabs); and the great Gabby Giffords, former Congresswoman from Arizona, among many other big healthcare thinkers.

On the website’s landing page, you’ll see a wide range of stakeholders who support the effort, from all “aisles” of politics, healthcare industry segments, for- and not-for-profit organizations, and regions of the country. Together, they transcend health politics and converge on a single health policy: that is, to “ensure that every single American has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income.”

The goals for 2018 will be to: hear patient and health industry stories, learn and share to influence policies that address peoples’ needs and concerns; provide resources to policymakers at the state and federal levels, “connecting the dots” between health citizens and their elected representatives; to develop new ideas for expanding affordable health care for all; and, to drive change that benefits Americans’ health.

Here’s a link to the organization’s one-page summary.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  These experts aren’t alone in this commitment. A poll by Hart Research, published on USofCare website, notes that the vast majority of engaged health citizens  — 9 in 10 Americans — agree with this goal. Most Democrats (75%) and Republicans (56%) strongly agree with the statement. [This survey was conducted among “engaged citizens,” defined by news attentiveness, civic engagement, and education, and may not be representative of a national random sample of all American adults].

This survey revealed an important data point that speaks volumes about how people in the U.S. look at healthcare: Two times as many people prefer that every American has access to quality, affordable health care than quality, affordable health coverage at a rate of 63% over 30%.

Thus, American patients draw a very stark line between accessing health care versus accessing health insurance.

Shall we just say: “it’s about the health care, stupid?”

Ultimately, United States of Care’s over-arching vision is to inspire and realize, “evidence-based and economically sound policy changes that move our country toward a positive vision: ensuring all Americans finally have the ability to care for themselves, and their families, without fear of devastating costs.”

Those devastating health care costs underpin the form of universal healthcare Americans have at the start of 2018. That is, U.S. health citizens are all universally anxious about health care costs today and in the future, which I wrote about yesterday here in Health Populi. Even families with at least $90,000 annual household income rank health care costs above all other household costs (mortgage and rent, utilities, gas for the car) as their #1 pocketbook issue.

I joined United States of Healthcare’s community today. You can do so here if you, too, share this goal with most health-engaged Democrats and Republicans. Follow United States of Care with me on Twitter @USofCare.