Daschle Joins in Grass Roots Efforts Targeted at Health Care Reform
President-elect Barack Obama's HHS secretary nominee, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), attended a community meeting in Dublin, Ind., on Dec. 29, 2008, where he spoke with residents about their health care concerns, the New York Times reports (Driehaus, New York Times, 12/30/08).
The event, which was attended by 35 people, was one of an estimated 8,500 community meetings held nationwide to encourage grassroots participation in a health care system overhaul.
Daschle, who also will serve as director of the new White House Office of Health Reform, said the events are "designed really to engage the public, to get out of Washington and hear directly from you about your concerns, about your recommendations, about ways you think our system can be made to work better" (Connolly, Washington Post, 12/30/08).
At the meeting, Daschle heard stories from people who had difficulty accessing care. He said, "These (stories) are really hard to listen to in many ways," adding, "We need to change the paradigm from illness to wellness" (Sheeley, Richmond Palladium-Item, 12/30/08).
Daschle said, "When we combine all the stories we heard in this small town of Dublin and multiply that by 300 million people, we can begin to imagine the scope of the problem," but "I'm hopeful that the country has come together to say: 'Enough already. We have to fix this'" (New York Times, 12/30/08).
Input From Seniors
On Dec. 30, 2008, Daschle and his mother met with about 25 seniors at the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center in southeastern Washington, D.C., to discuss health care.
The seniors expressed interest in shorter wait times at physician offices and incentives to promote preventive care. Discussion participants also expressed concerns about the cost of prescription drugs and the lack of Medicare coverage for certain treatments and medical devices (Freking, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/31/08).
Going Against the GrainAccording to the Washington Post, "To Washington veterans, the approach may seem backward, or even naive, but Obama is betting that the energetic, technology-savvy supporters who fueled his candidacy will act as a potent counterbalance to the traditionally powerful special interests that have defeated similar reform efforts" (Washington Post, 12/30/08). 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.