Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A big shout out to the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.

Yesterday, the Connecticut General Assembly passed SustiNet, the Foundation's universal health care plan. This came after years of grueling, non-stop, intelligent campaigning in partnership with lots of Connecticut's health care nonprofits, business leaders, and policy makers.

Our book -- It's Too Hard to be Sick in America -- was funded largely by the Foundation, and in the introduction, we explained why we are so hot on SustiNet.

SustiNet contains what I think is the best model for chronic disease management that I have ever seen. First, patients are involved -- a radical concept if you compare SustiNet to any of the other plans out there, but a no-brainer if you think about the fact that patients have to manage their own care, at least in between doctor visits, so ignoring them is a recipe for failure. Second, SustiNet recognizes that, for the chronically ill, medical life doesn't end at the door to the medical office, but extends to work, school -- every aspect of our lives.

SustiNet provides that there will be a Board of Directors comprised of political appointees from various backgrounds, and committees on each piece of SustiNet, from primary and preventive care to electronic medical records to chronic disease management. I hope I will be allowed to serve on the committee that will outline the details of the chronic disease management plan.

These committees, plus three task forces, will work with the SustiNet Board to deliver to the legislature a detailed plan for implementation of SustiNet in January 2011. SustiNet will operate as a health plan beginning in July 2012 -- sooner than the federal plans currently being debated in Congress.

The Foundation has done its homework. It has worked with an economist from MIT and experts from all over the United States. It has done a lot of listening -- and it has done a whole lot of convincing. It has the support of much of the business community, plus the health care advocacy community and, most importantly, the public.

It is an exciting day for those of us who have been fighting this fight. Although we know our work just begins here, we have a plan, we have a time line, and we have the support of the General Assembly.

At one of the rallies at the Capitol, a bunch of us sang the following to the tune of We Shall Overcome!:

We shall all have health care.
We shall all have health care.
We shall all have health care now.
Oh deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall all have health care now.

And in July 2012, we shall, indeed. Jennifer

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