Daschle Details Plans To Build Grassroots Push for Health Care Reform
On a conference call Wednesday with 1,000 Obama supporters who have expressed interest in health issues, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)discussed how the transition team and administration will use the Internet to initiate a grassroots overhaul effort, the Washington Post reports.
President-elect Barack Obama has tapped Daschle for HHS secretary.Â The outreach effort will include online videos, blogs and e-mail alerts.
Daschle said, "We'll have some exciting news about town halls, we'll have some outreach efforts in December," adding that "we'll be making some announcements" during a Thursday health care summit with Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) in Denver.
Salazar said, "President-elect Obama believes that change really comes from the ground up, not from Washington."
Transition team spokesperson Stephanie Cutter said Obama's staff will use the Internet in other areas but chose to begin with health care because "every American is feeling the pressure of high health costs and lack of quality care, and we feel it's important to engage them in the process of reform."
The online health care effort began with a 63-second video posted on Change.gov, in which health advisers Dora Hughes and Lauren Aronson posed the question, "What worries you most about the health care system in our country?"
The video triggered 3,700 responses, which were turned into a "word cloud," featuring the 100 most frequently used terms. The cloud's largest words -- those that were used most frequently -- include "insurance," "system," "people" and "need."
The feature also was interactive, allowing participants to reply to other users' comments and rate responses.
A second video, featuring Daschle, already has been created. In the video, Daschle said, "We want to make sure you understand how important those comments and your contributions are," adding, "Already we've begun to follow through with some of the ideas."
In addition, Daschle lauded a suggestion of creating a "Health Corps," modeled after President John Kennedy's Peace Corps.
Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of Personal Democracy Forum, said, "It will be a lot easier to get the American public to adopt any new health care system if they were a part of the process of crafting it" (Connolly, Washington Post, 12/4).
On Thursday, American Public Media's "Marketplace" reported on Daschle's discussion regarding health care overhaul and examined whether the U.S. can afford change during the recession (Jagow, "Marketplace," American Public Media, 12/4).
On Wednesday, WBUR's "Here and Now" included a discussion with Atul Gawande, a Boston surgeon, author and health policy adviser to President Clinton, about the state of health care in the U.S. The discussion included the prospects of an individual mandate, transparency, treatment efficiency and reducing costs ("Here and Now," WBUR, 12/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.