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Excerpt: 'Accountable'

Cover of 'Accountable'

Health Care and Well-Being

ACCOUNTABLE Assessment Checklist

The most powerful tool we have as citizens to effect change is our vote. We should not allow our elected officials to make promises in their campaigns without fulfilling their obligations once in office. Use this list to hold our new president accountable on health care.

Campaign Promises 2008: Health Care

Barack Obama as Promised...

- Will make a new national health care plan available to all Americans with guaranteed eligibility; comprehensive benefits; affordable premiums, copays, and deductibles; simplified paperwork; easy enrollment; increased portability; and choice.

- Will provide tax relief for small business.

- Will create a Small Business Health Tax Credit to assist small businesses in providing employee health care.

- Will mandate health coverage for children.

- Will help patients by improving disease management programs and increasing transparency in health costs.

- Will lower costs by increasing competition in the insurance and drug markets.

Use this checklist to evaluate whether the entities that can make a difference are doing all that they can to help America realize the goal of the first Covenant: "Securing the Right to Health care and Well-Being." Reexamine this checklist every six months to assess progress.

Our President

- Have you made implementation of a health care plan a priority within the first 100 days of your administration?

- Have you exercised good judgment, reached out to a broad number of constituencies who will be affected by health care reform, and engaged in transparent dealings that will strengthen the chances that implementation of reform will succeed?

- Have you retained the ability to oversee the new reforms, ensuring that neither private nor public entities behave unfairly or unethically?

- Have you provided for unbiased entities to evaluate the success of the new reforms at regular intervals to determine if benchmarks have been met?

Our U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen

- Have you made health care reform a priority issue?

- Are you using monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and all entities in the health care system act in good faith and do not violate federal or ethical standards?

- Have you voted to expand health care coverage for children?

- Are you working to make health insurance more affordable for all Americans?

Our Governor and State Legislators

- Have you shown leadership on health care reform even where the federal government may be lacking?

- Do you have a plan to fill in gaps in health care coverage created by a federal plan?

- Can you implement that plan if necessary?

- Do you have an enforcement mechanism to ensure that insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and all entities in the health care system always act in good faith and do not violate state, federal, or ethical standards?

Our Community Leaders and Faith-Based Organizations

- Do you have a plan or an initiative to monitor the political progress of health care reform promises made by our governmental leaders and to advocate when necessary?

- Do you have a plan or an initiative to educate your members about the progress of health care reform and about the availability of health care options in our community?

- Have you educated your members about health, nutrition, screenings, and risk factors for degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and heart disease?

- Do you implement programs to improve the health of your community members, such as disease screenings, blood pressure checks, or fitness initiatives?

You and I

- Do I eat a healthy diet?

- Do I exercise regularly?

-Do I know where the health facilities in my community are and what services they offer?

- Do I have a primary physician whom I see at least once a year?

- Do I see myself as the best advocate for my own health?

- Do I understand the importance of cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other health screenings, and undergo the appropriate tests at the recommended intervals as determined with my doctor?

- Do I talk to my family, neighbors, children, friends, and community members about important health issues — insurance coverage, access to services, and making health care affordable for all Americans?

- Do I talk to my family, neighbors, children, friends, and community members about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as the value of eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and seeing a physician at least once a year?

Excerpted with permission from Accountable: Making America As Good As Its Promise. Published by Atria Books, February 2009.

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Tavis Smiley