Leaving this health reform thread, now.
When we began RWJF’s health reform blog, a little over a year ago, we knew we were joining a crowded space. But the health reform debate touched on so many of the issues that this foundation works on that not joining the conversation would’ve felt, to us, profoundly weird.
We learned a lot from doing this blog. It wasn’t the first blog launched from the RWJF mother ship, but it still taught us some new things about blogging in general. Like, we knew that a ton of our grantees and partners were actively participating and informing the discussions and debates about health reform. We know this because we were suddenly insanely busy (even more so than usual) putting out a ton of analyses and information from RWJF grantees and partners, and the blog enabled us to put add another layer of thoughtful commentary on top of the high volume of stuff coming from the RWJF fire hose. However, we also learned that our grantees and partners, for the most part, traffic in groundbreaking research or demonstration projects, and not a lot of them have the time to quickly dash off a conversational, insightful piece. Only a few had added blogging to their formidably impressive skill sets, and the competition for their thoughts was fierce.
Nonetheless, we thought it was worth the try to get our own health reform blog going—and we got some good stuff. We heard from our grantees and staff on a wide range of topics covered by the health reform debate. We tried to stick, whenever possible, to plain English, so that our few thousand readers would be less confused, perhaps, about particular aspects of the health reform debate. And now we’re come to a crossroads, and we’re ready to turn in another direction. This is definitely not the end of RWJF’s blogging days—our Pioneering Ideas blog is still alive, well, and kicking—but we are calling it over for the Galaxy blog. During the debate leading up to the passage of the law, we joined the conversation in so many ways. But now the law is passed, and we’re gearing up to join other conversations, and will continue to inform others, with thoughtful and timely analysis and commentary.
Before I turn out the lights, some parting thoughts:
RWJF recently sent out the annual message from our President and CEO, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. This year, her message focused on what just happened, with respect to health reform, and what needs to happen, with respect to health reform, in the years to come. In RWJF’s ongoing quest to explore the frontiers of interactivity and social media, this year, she invited readers of the President’s Message to submit “one-minute essays,” quick thoughts about what was on people’s minds with respect to health reform.
A ton of responses came through in response to the invite. And while these responses were meant for Risa alone, she did share some key take-aways with some of us here from the hundreds of e-mails received. Many respondents shared concrete, thoughtful, detailed responses that showed how people are already thinking several steps ahead about how to implement different provisions of the law. And, she heard some anxiety in the responses, as well. Anxiety about what’s in the health reform law, and how whether certain provisions will be implemented well, and successfully, and anxiety about what wasn’t in the law, and whether some important issues in health and health care will simply fall off the radar screen, forever.
I’ve heard a lot of anxiety about the health reform law, too, and can probably rattle off a list of my own worries to add to the mix. But there are times when I wonder: gosh, have we become a nation of hand-wringers, or what? Are we all carrying a Woody-Allenesque flag about our own particular neuroses with respect to health reform? (“How are states going to handle this?” “Will people ever understand the benefits of the law?” “What about public health/addiction/nursing/affordability/mental health/etcetera, etcetera?”) The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in many ways, is like one ginormous Rorschach ink blot for us all: we interpret its many provisions according to our own perspectives and experiences, and we project our many hopes and fears onto the law because its passage was, truly, an extraordinary event.
But I think the wide range of reactions and feelings about the new health reform law tells us another thing, too, and it is this: a person’s health is shaped by so many different factors. We as human beings present a vast array of health and health care opportunities and challenges: where we live, what we eat, where we work, how we think, our genetic make-up, our insurance status, the care we receive, whether we like our doctor, whether enough doctors and nurses live in our neighborhoods, what we read on the Internet….all of these factors can shape a person's health and well-being in this society. There are so many people out there who care about these different factors. There are so many people in this country who want to try and influence these factors in ways that actually help people live healthier lives and get the care they need, rather than live sicker and die younger through successive generations.
This, to RWJF, is what health reform is about. Health reform has never been about one law, however momentous. It’s what we do. It’s our mission.
With that, I thank everyone who contributed to this blog, and everyone who read it, and all of the people at RWJF and elsewhere who took the time to keep it up and running. It was fun while it lasted—now on to other things.