Creating a health care reform commission is one key strategy that will assist lawmakers in developing and moving comprehensive reform. If used strategically, commissions can raise the public's awareness and build political support for reform while they study various options and discuss the benefits and trade-offs to different approaches. Commissions are typically well-covered by the media; they educate the public, fellow lawmakers, and media about health care and the need for bold progressive reforms, and they highlight the drawbacks to approaches typically pursued by the Right. If managed effectively, commissions can provide lawmakers with the political cover and credibility they need to push real reform.
A model commission is Washington's newly created Citizens' Work Group on Health Care Reform (SB 6333). The legislation authorizes a detailed analysis of leading comprehensive health care reform models and requires the Work Group to hold regional public forums to engage the public in developing recommendations for comprehensive reform. The Work Group is similar to reform commissions in Colorado and New Mexico, which conducted detailed actuarial studies of various health care reform models, from limited benefit plans to single-payer systems, and have since reported their findings. The Washington Work Group, like Colorado's commission, is required to report specific recommendations for legislative action by November 1, 2009, in time for the 2010 session.
Resources for Comprehensive Reform:
- Community Catalyst and Families USA - A Consumer Guide to State Health Reform
- Progressive States Network - Health-Care-for-All on the Installment Plan
- Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report - Number of Uninsured Massachusetts Residents Declined by Nearly Half Last Year, According to Urban Institute Report
- National Alliance for Mental Illness, National Council for Community Behavioral HealthCare - Coverage for All: Inclusion of Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders in State Healthcare Reform Initiatives