The AMA dedicated $15 million in January for a campaign prior to the
national election in November to encourage voters to demand universal health
care access for all Americans.
The AMA push is the second phase of its "Voice for the
Uninsured" campaign, which aims to spur action to cover the nation's 47
million uninsured (Psychiatric News, February 1).
The campaign stems from observations by AMA members about the consequences
faced by their uninsured patients, who often are sicker and die younger, said
Samantha Rosman, M.D., an AMA board member, in a written statement. Such
patients often skip preventive care and regular checkups until their health
problems reach crisis proportions, which then results in more difficult and
more costly conditions to treat.
The AMA campaign will use television and print advertisements,"
healthy-lifestyle events," mobile billboards, Web-based MySpace
and Facebook profiles dedicated to the uninsured, and a series of concerts
nationwide to bring wider awareness to the uninsured crisis.
"Covering the uninsured is a top priority for the AMA, and we are
sharing our proposal with voters and candidates," Rosman said."
The AMA plan expands health insurance coverage to all patients,
regardless of income or health status."
The AMA does not support a single-payer system of nationalized health care.
Instead, it has endorsed a tax credit—based approach that would include
needs-based financial assistance designed to purchase health insurance. The
AMA plan would allow participants to select the appropriate coverage for
themselves and their families, it would include protections for high-risk
patients, and it would promote greater responsibility by individuals for their
The 2007 phase of the "Voice for the Uninsured" campaign funded
advertising and sponsored events in Washington, D.C., and in the early
presidential primary states (Psychiatric News, September 21,
"We all have a voice and a vote," Rosman said. "We know
that if Americans make this a priority in the coming election, together we can
cover the uninsured."
APA President Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., said that APA has not endorsed the
AMA plan officially, but APA does support any effort that will increase
Americans' access to health care, including treatment for mental illness.
APA has long urged better health care access to ensure increased use of
preventive care and early interventions to avoid more serious illness and more
expensive acute care.
"It's very important that any coverage should include equal access
for mental health care as it does for any other medical care,"
The leading federal legislative priority for APA is the enactment of
broad-based insurance parity legislation that has stalled in an intracameral
She said APA promotes health care education so patients know when to seek
different types of health care. The more patients know about mental health and
mental illness, the more likely they are to seek care earlier.
Information on the AMA campaign is posted at<www.voicefortheuninsured.org>.▪