From last Saturday Feb 25 to this Tuesday Feb 28 our nation's Governors (28 Pubs/22 Dems) descended on Washington DC to hold their winter NGA=National Governors Association meeting. Chaired by Mike Huckabee
-Rep from Arkansas
, who was even interviewed by Sesame Street
characters Elmo and Rosita, believe it or not the meeting's theme was Healthy America?
Yet competing legitimate interests like the war, homeland security , katrina, the general economy and a lot of back room/hallway corridor worry-chatter from Republicans about losing in this November elections unless they rapidly bail on a failed presidency, still seemed to dominate the headlines.
Needless to say much was said about health care at least at the fringes of our nation's health care crisis. Gov. Huckabee ,to his credit, is promoting wellness in his home state of Arkansas and, as Chairman of the NGA, set the Healthy America
theme for the conference. In his home state Huckabee, a young Republican, has created ARKids
which provides greater healthcare access to tens of thousands of Arkansas kids and is leading a ballot initiative to devote all of Arkansas' tobacco settlement money to improve the health of all Arkansans
The opening plenary session, "Creating Healthy States," featured a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt. Also Dr. David Katz, Yale School of Public Health, also spoke at the Saturday afternoon session
."Nearly 129 million adults in the United States are overweight; of these, more than 60 million are obese and 9 million are severely obese. Excess weight is an indicator of poor health habits- such as poor nutrition and lack of physical activity- known to cause or worsen chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. When combined with tobacco use, these health habits are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States," said Gov. Huckabee. "These trends threaten the health of individual Americans and the American economy. We already pay more for health care than people in other Western nations. If we continue to tax our health care systems with chronic conditions, the system will worsen." Wow you would think they might have even been listening to my friend Dr Michael O'Donnell
, our nation's leading advocate of Health Promotion or reading his political advocacy website, at www.healthpromotionadvocates.org
.The plenary session on Sunday afternoon, "A Culture of Wellness: Healthy Messages" opened with a keynote address by Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
(ouch! to that hypocrisy!) Following the address, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta
moderated a panel discussion focused on delivering healthy messages. Panelists Judy Harris
, president and CEO of Channel One; Jennifer Kotler
, director of research at Sesame Workshop; and Marva Smalls
, executive vice president of public affairs and chief of staff for Nickelodeon Networks shared their experience with evidence-based messages that have proven compelling to the public-particularly those messages directed toward children, youth and their parents
Even former fast food eating-post coronary artery bypass surgery(Sept 04)- former President Bill Clinton
spoke on the merits of a better health habits warning the governors that failure to change the nations eating habits will weaken the economy and threaten the lives of its children. Bubba said "We have a huge cultural problem and unless we change it our children may grow up to be the first generation with shorter lifespans than we had!"
Meanwhile head of the DGA= Democratic Governors Association Gov. Bill Richardson from New Mexico,
our nations only Hispanic Governor, under the DGA tagline "Won't Wait for 08"
is taking some good shots at the President and Dr. Frist for the botched Medicare prescription drug plan and draconian and cruel Medicaid cuts to the states. (more on that topic in my next post)My question is this?
- Where are the powerful Governors from big and powerful states from NewYork, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Texas and California on Health Care Reform? With their campaign funding a pockets lined with Big Pharma, Big Hospitals, the AMA and Big Insurance industry $ I think I know? Alas they are not talkin too much about health care reform lest they anger their vested interest funders?
In my recent previous posts on this blog I highlight two former Governors who have the right stuff and right ideas on Health Care. They understand it is far too late for incrementalism. Namely former Governors Richard Lamm of Colorado
and John Kitzhaber of Oregon
. (see previous posts)
Ok -all 50 state Governors - you talked good game on health care at your fancy meeting. Now get some serious legislation through your states and through bottom up pressure influence the national agenda. The DEM Govs are painfully correct
- We "can't wait for 08"Our President Mr. Bush, Dr. Frist and friends are in "critical condition" on this issue of great importance to all Americans-embarassingly and tragically so.