The Education Challenge 

Health Care Rally in Salem, Oregon

Health Care Rally in Salem, Oregon

The rapid proliferation of information leads to confusion around the issues of health care finance reform and health care delivery reform and their impact on health outcomes and access to health care.  The meaning of these words and terms is one of our educational challenges. 

Despite decades of debate and controversy over health care reform, the public remains largely uninformed about the failings of the existing health care system, the shortcomings of reforms currently being implemented, and the possibilities and necessities of additional reform. 

Many Americans lack awareness that the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer universal health care to its population. While these systems vary widely in government involvement, forms of finance, and means of oversight, they all provide a comprehensive, universal, publicly funded program. They are also less expensive and have better over all health outcomes than the current system in the United States.

For comprehensive health care reform to succeed, the public will need to become aware that such reform is not only possible, but realistic, cost effective and entirely consistent with American values of freedom, choice, and responsibility.  An analysis of successful health care practices and evidence-based medical care outcomes in the rest of the world demonstrates that a health care system which provides equitable, comprehensive, and high-quality care to everyone is within our reach. 

Educating the public will require a multi-year effort moving from mobilization based on the moral imperative to provide “health care for all” to broad based education of the public regarding the necessity and benefits of reform.

Strategic Considerations

To win over a reluctant public and gain support and funding from legislators, foundations and others, our educational efforts must be based upon facts and verifiable information and be seen as accessible, honest, and relevant.  Honesty and relevance dictate that opinion not be presented as fact and that any factual presentation is sufficiently thorough so as to avoid any opportunity for misinformation as a consequence of information having been withheld.  

Educational efforts need to fairly portray both the current system and any proposed reform alternatives. Educational materials must avoid being seen as carrying a political agenda favoring any particular political constituency or system of implementation.

Opposition to reform has been heavily funded by vested interest groups and has used misinformation, sloganeering and wedge issues to attack those proposing reform. Understanding the messaging of the opposition and the values and political narratives that shape public opinions will be important in providing targeted education and in inoculating the public against likely attacks, and against further misinformation.

An informed public will require a thorough and defensible analysis of the costs, public financing and anticipate health outcomes from reform alternatives.  Along with a review of the considerable bodies of knowledge on social impacts of health care and health care economics, supporting and promoting a study that meets the needs of legislators, interest groups, and the public will be an essential part of overall education efforts.  

Building broad based support for reform will require research exploring the current level of knowledge regarding our health care system, the values that shape constituency support for reform, and the specific messaging likely to influence key constituencies. 

Goals Development & Objectives

Educate the public regarding the current and future crises in our health care system.

  • Develop evidence on issues, such as insurance, rising costs, & shortcomings of the ACA
  • Provide a source of current news, information & research

Provide verifiable facts and information on the cost savings and improved health outcomes possible through reforms that have proven successful in other countries.

  • Develop information explaining rising healthcare costs and reform necessary to provide affordable, comprehensive care
  • Provide comparisons of costs and health outcomes between the U.S. and other developed nations

Document and educate about the human consequences of failure of the existing health care system in providing necessary health care.

  • Develop a Stories Project of health-related stories of Oregonians
  • Provide access to the Stories Project to other education-minded health care advocacy groups.

Develop an education and training program for speakers.

Promote and support an independent evaluation of alternative financing systems and the related health outcomes. 

Identify the current knowledge, concerns, and values of individuals and constituencies regarding reform. 

  • Review existing literature
  • Support focus groups
  • Work with HCAO coalition and other health care reform advocacy groups  

Support and promote activities which further the vision, mission, and goals of this organization.

  • Support evidence-based research, particularly in Oregon
  • Promote educational collaboration on health care reform and improve health care policy
  • Maintain an organizational structure with the ability to respond to changing scene with timely and accurate information, such as financing & delivery of health care, public health outcomes, and human rights protections