Virginia Consumer Healthcare Alliance

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From the Alliance

Health Care Policy: It’s Personal.

This weekend marked the fourth anniversary of my mother’s passing.

In November of 2015, I moderated a panel discussion sponsored by the Mercatus Center that discussed the future of health care.

To start the conversation, I told the audience of the experience my family had during my mother’s stroke, helicopter ride, surgeries, improvement, decline, and eventual passing. The reason I relived the ordeal was to bring attention to the fact that policy makers and health care industry representatives needed to think about the politics of their actions concurrent with their deliberations.

People’s lives are at stake. It’s personal. Deeply so.

Basically, I said that if it cannot fit on a bumpersticker, it probably won’t sell.

Following that panel discussion, a long time member of the lobbying community told me that she was disappointed the discussion was not a deeper dive into policy. I explained that the more complex the policies are made, the less likely that it will change due to the skepticism and lack of trust by the electorate.

What is often missing in the discussions around policy changes, especially ones involving health care due to the growing unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act, is how long it will take before the changes can be absorbed by the market.

And more importantly that people have their own experiences with health care that color their opinions. Our experience with my mother’s passing showed a disparity in quality of care from personnel and facilities that frankly shocked us.

It’s hard to say if that made a difference in the eventual outcome – the death of my mother – but the experience has neither left nor failed to inform.