Values may drive consensus on universal health care reform

By Dennis Archambault


When it comes down to human values, we can agree. In the case of assuring health care for all Americans, that is relatively simple and affordable, there’s no disagreement in principal, according to a poll commissioned by the Michigan Universal Health Care Network (MichUHCAN). In an era of extreme partisanship, it seems that we can’t agree on much of anything, much less major health policy.  But it turns out that Republicans and Democrats want the same thing: access to affordable, quality health care.

Marjorie Mitchell, in a commentary published recent in The Detroit News, said that MichUHCAN, together with a national network of physician advocates called USA Healthcare (Universal, Simple, Affordable), developed a “values framework” for developing a utilitarian health care system. “Health care should be universal, simple and affordable. If we could get Americans to agree on the health care values they desired, then perhaps these values could be used to develop and evaluate policy proposals.”

It turns out that the persuasive challenge may not be terribly difficult, especially given the lack of consensus on much of anything in government today. USA Healthcare commissioned two polls of likely voters: one Democrat and the other Republican. The Republican result was surprising: a large majority of Republicans believe the health care system needs to change, and that the change should be universal, simple, and affordable.

“What struck our board is the consensus around the values/goals between our two polls. It would appear we could be more “us” rather than “we vs. them” in this country regarding needed changes to the health care funding and delivery system if we engage outside the political pressure cooker,” Mitchell writes. “Wouldn’t it be refreshing to develop health care policies based on the needs and desires of the people, rather than political ideologies?”

It turns out that values still matter.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health. He is a member of the University Health Care Network Board of Directors.