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College announces new plans for Decision 2000 campaign

From the June 2000 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2000 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

By Brian Wasson

Philadelphia—At an Annual Session press conference, College leaders announced that the Decision 2000 campaign Will this year examine the relationship between health care access and women's health.

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President Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, FACP, said the College expects to release a study later this fall examining how a lack of health insurance affects women. She explained that the study will be just one part of an overall effort by the College to raise awareness about women's health issues. The College also plans to offer more Annual Session courses on women's health topics, provide more regional meetings on women's health and review women's health clinical guidelines.

"Women's health means more than reproductive care," Dr. Fryhofer said. She cited one statistic that uninsured women with breast cancer have a 49% higher adjusted risk of death than women with insurance.

In addition, Robert B. Doherty, the College's Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, announced that the College recently agreed to fund a research project by Harvard Medical School. The study will use data collected on a state-by-state basis to analyze the adverse health consequences of the lack of health coverage. When completed, the results will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication.

The Decision 2000 campaign seeks to influence public policy through advertisements and public relations activities. The College has earmarked $1 million over a two-year period to fund the campaign.

Over the past year, the College has released two research papers under the title "No Health Insurance? It's Enough to Make You Sick." The first paper considered the general health impact of being uninsured, while the second looked at the Latino community and its lack of health insurance.

"More than 30 million people have heard our message through radio, TV and newspapers, and more than 20 million readers have seen our advocacy ads," said Immediate Past President Whitney W. Addington, MACP. He noted that one of the campaign's achievements was destroying the myth that the health care needs of the uninsured can successfully be met through public health clinics. "No initiative has been closer to my heart than the Decision 2000 campaign, which we launched to highlight the more than 44 million Americans who lack health insurance," Dr. Addington said.

The College also used the press conference to release a statement congratulating presidential candidate George W. Bush for proposing a plan to expand access to health insurance. The College, however, said that Mr. Bush should go further and commit to developing a plan to provide health insurance for all Americans. "Even if it makes sense to start out by proposing plans to make coverage available to poorer Americans, as both candidates have proposed, the job won't be complete until everyone is covered," the statement said.

At the press conference, Dr. Addington noted that although the College does not endorse candidates or their platforms, he thinks the College's efforts have been successful. "We were heartened that both candidates have addressed the problem, but we are critical of them both because they don't address the need to cover all Americans," he said.

"Health care has become a top issue again in Washington," Mr. Doherty added. "The fact that the country is starting to look at these issues again is a positive step."

Brian Wasson is a Senior Communications Associate at ACP—ASIM.

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