151276 Who speaks for the uninsured? Assessing the current state of the social movement for universal health insurance

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 9:40 AM

Rachel Friedman Singer, MPH, MPA , Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Thomas R. Oliver, PhD, MHA , School of Medicine and Public Health, Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Despite widespread knowledge of the causes and consequences of the large uninsured population in the U.S., significant national action to address the problem will also require: 1) a major shift in the priorities of elected officials; and 2) mobilization of a strong, grassroots social movement to counter opposing interest groups. This project focuses on the second of these conditions, neglected despite recognition that the Clinton health care reform initiative failed in part because groups representing consumers and the uninsured were not well-organized or were only lukewarm supporters of the approach taken by the Clinton administration. While grassroots organizing and mobilization appears to be a vital element in the long-term campaign for universal health insurance, there has been little systematic understanding of the scope, capacity and cohesion of advocacy groups pursuing that goal.

Employing a variety of methods, we identified national, state, and local groups with the stated goal of advocating for or educating about universal coverage. After reviewing websites and foundation databases for information on group affiliations, activities, staffing, funding, and other organizational characteristics, we conducted in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of leaders of advocacy organizations, leaders of opposing and affiliate groups, and other stakeholders, including foundation staff and policy makers.

The findings of this research will be significant for the advocacy organizations and coalitions themselves; current and potential funders of those organizations; researchers and policy analysts focused on health insurance coverage issues; and journalists who cover health care issues, among others.

Learning Objectives:
1. Critically analyze the necessity and potential contributions of a social movement for universal coverage. 2. Discuss the current state of organization, resources, and networking among advocates for universal coverage and their allies. 3. Assess the current capacity and cohesion of the advocacy groups that constitute the basis for a social movement that could hasten the arrival of universal health insurance in the U.S.

Keywords: Universal Coverage, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.