Health Care Deja Vu

Part of our monthly "Progress Report" newsletter. To receive the latest email updates from Public Agenda, click here.

With health care, it's déjà vu all over again as we see another great example of short-sighted policymaking due to the misguided tactic of keeping the public in the dark.

Public Agenda veterans remember the early 90s, when the Democratic Clinton Administration developed its health policy behind closed doors without bothering to prepare, let alone, engage the public on what was to come. At the time, we predicted it would run into a wall consisting of the bricks of partisan Congressional resistance and the mortar of public confusion and cynicism. And it did. The don't-look-behind-the-curtain policy process currently employed by Senate Republicans promises a similar result.

Something may be shoved through via sloganeering, parliamentary maneuvering, executive action or leadership bargaining, but the public is likely to push back hard if the result doesn't produce policies that reflect people's priorities and address their concerns. Anger and cynicism are even more likely if they and their representatives never had a chance to weigh in as the process unfolds. A policy produced from such weak democratic process and anemic public understanding and support is likely to produce strong blowback.

At Public Agenda, we work to inform and engage the public about the issues that affect their lives, and to bridge the gaps between leaders and the public. We do this through our Citizens Solutions Guides, such as this one on health care, that help people understand different policy directions. We do it through research such as our report on health care price transparency. And we do this through our public and community engagement support services, for instance, with ReThink Health's Ventures project. We'll be working alongside this group to help set goals for the kinds of engagement they want to initiate, support and sustain in their health systems and communities.

Next month, we'll add to the national health care conversation with our anticipated research on public perceptions of quality and value. As newsletter subscribers, you'll receive the report and findings as soon as it is released.

Thank you for your support in our work to ensure the public's thinking, concerns, values and voice are at the forefront of decision-making.


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