Take Action

Reforming the Health Care System

Critical Condition puts a human face on America's growing health care crisis by capturing the harrowing struggles of four critically ill Americans who discover that being uninsured can cost them their jobs, health, home, savings, and even their lives.

What can you do to improve health care in America?

Host a discussion on the pros and cons of various forms of universal health care coverage, including a single-payer system, individual or employer mandates, tax incentives for individuals to purchase private insurance from companies, and so on. Assess how each of the plans would have changed the situation faced by the people in the film or people you know w ho have struggled to receive care.

Use the grid on page 22 of the Critical Condition Discussion Guide to evaluate the presidential candidates' health care plans. Summaries of those plans are available in the "Background" section of the guide.

Convene a support group for medical professionals who are frustrated by having to make treatment decisions based on what a patient can afford rather than on medical need.

Set up a health fair like the one seen in the film that connects local providers offering free or sliding fee scale medical care to the uninsured.

Research the reasons that medical care and prescription drugs are often cheaper in other countries and what could be done to make them cheaper in the United States.

Plan an event in conjunction with Cover the Uninsured Week (April 27-May 3). For more information on this event, visit www.covertheuninsured.org.

Host a screening or a house party of Critical Condition to bring visibility to this issue and encourage discussion about health care reform.

Examine eligibility gaps created by age, income, and limits on the length or amount of benefits in existing government health programs (SCHIP, Medicaid, Medicare). Brainstorm ways to close the gaps you find. Share your best ideas with policy makers and elected officials.

Join local community groups and national organizations that are pushing the next president and Congress to move the nation toward health care reform.

Americans for Health Care (AHC): In the "Take Action" section of the AHC website you can sign up to join the ranks of this grassroots health care reform organization, which is backed by the Service Employees International Union. From the AHC, you can receive the latest news and updates; download detailed activist guides, including one on how to share your personal health care experiences with the media; and connect with an AHC state campaign or other local organizations in need of volunteers.

American Medical Association (AMA):
Voice for the Uninsured.org
: Read the AMA's proposal for changing the health care system and expanding insurance coverage to the uninsured, then register with the Patients' Action Network to show your support. By registering, your name will be added to the list of tens of thousands of other Americans who want Congress to hear their voice and change the health care system.

American Medical Student Association (AMSA): This AMSA "activism toolbox" is a guide to grassroots action for medical students and provides comprehensive resources for organizing local campaigns, including tips for writing effective newsletters, lobbying and public relations tactics for getting out your message.

Campaign for an American Solution
: Sign up to join the Campaign for an American Solution, a nonpartisan, educational and grassroots initiative of America's Health Insurance Plans to get updates from Washington on health care reform, share your ideas with lawmakers, and receive news about and information on how to participate in the campaign's ongoing cross-country "Listening Tour."

Code Blue Now! Americ's Health Care Voice: Read the Declaration of Health for America, then add your signature to the petition for health care reform via an online form. Take an online survey to voice your opinion on the health care system and get tips for writing to your elected officials and resources for starting a reading/discussion group.

Cover the Uninsured: The "What You Can Do" section of this project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offers planning guides and everything else you'll need to organize and promote activities in support of America's uninsured in your hometown or on your college campus. Materials cover the issue of health care from a wide range of perspectives, including the business community, faith-based organizations, families and college students.

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP): Divided We Fail.org: Visit the "Activist Resources" section of the website for this AARP initiative on health care and financial security to take a pledge to support candidates who will take action on these issues. Also find links to materials on writing editorials and
letters to the media, reaching out to neighbors, building consensus on health care reform in your community, and using the Internet to spread the Divided We Fail message. The site also puts you in touch with your state AARP office so you can coordinate your efforts with others in your area.

Families USA: Use this email template to send a message to your senators and representatives urging them to fix the health care system and make quality health care available and affordable for all.

Healthcare-Now!: The "Take Action" section of this website offers 27 action ideas and provides the necessary resources, including setting up a meeting with your member of Congress, contacting your state governor and legislators, launching a letter-writing campaign, organizing your own local coalition, and even purchasing a yard sign. You can also read and endorse the proposed bill HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, and sign a petition to encourage Congress to act.

Heathcare for America Now!: Healthcare for America NOW! has an email template form that asks individuals to choose between different health care plans: one in which individuals can keep their current private insurance plan, pick a new private insurance plan or join a public health insurance plan.

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP): The "Get Active" section of the PNHP website offers ideas and resources for getting involved with the organization's mission to achieve national health insurance. A guide for citizen activists includes handouts and fact sheets on single-payer health care, templates for writing to your representative and drafting an oped for your local news publications, and tips on organizing community group meetings. You can also sign up for action alerts on important health policy issues and new research.