Late Breaking Resolution Adopted by the American Public Health Association November 10, 1999

A New Campaign for Universal Health Care

The American Public Health Association

Recalling its longstanding commitment to the establishment of publicly funded and guaranteed comprehensive, affordable health care for all;(1),(2),(3) and

Noting the six-year long hiatus in nationally organized campaigns toward that goal; and

Recognizing that the hiatus, following a major political defeat for health care reform efforts, reflected a political environment widely viewed as favorable, at most, to small, piecemeal steps toward reform; and

Concerned that the market-oriented health care environment has marginalized public health; and

Realizing that a broad constituency has been developing for a strong, new effort to secure comprehensive, affordable health care for all,(4) as a result of factors such as the relentlessly increasing numbers of uninsured people even as the economy boomed and unemployment shrank,(5) the increasingly evident failure of market-oriented managed care to contain health care costs,(6) to enhance health care access, to assure health care quality,(7) or to value the professional roles and integrity of health care professionals;(8),(9) and

Believing that the recent re-emergence of our society's obligation to assure health care as a high priority issue in presidential campaign politics not only reflects developments such as the foregoing but also affirms dramatically that issue's claim to a prominent place on the nation's agenda;(10) and

Appreciating that recent public opinion polling confirms the readiness of a great many Americans for a new attempt to gain universal coverage;, with virtually half of all respondents in one survey saying that the federal government should provide health care for all;(11) and

Welcoming the actual initiation of such a campaign recently by three national organizations, the Universal Health Care Action Network (, the Gray Panthers, and the National Council of Churches, at a launching conference in Washington, DC, October 22-24, 1999; and

Noting that the campaign for universal health care, which other national organizations are invited to join at this point as co-founders, is viewed as a multi-year effort to realize, early in the next century, a government commitment assuring universal, affordable, comprehensive, quality, publicly accountable health care, and that the objectives of the campaign's first year (a campaign phase dubbed "U2K") are (1) to increase the political prominence of the issue of fundamental health care reform nationwide, (2) to strengthen local health care reform coalitions and build new links among organizations concerned about the national crisis in health care, and (3) to help build a vigorous block of committed universal health care proponents in the next Congress; and

Mindful that, for the present, the U2K campaign will avoid advocating particular mechanisms for achieving, or system models for implementing, universal health care, determined to defer such discussion until a strong political thrust for reform is demonstrated; therefore [will] consider


1. APHA Policy Statement 7108: A National Program for Personal Health Services. APHA Policy Statements: 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; current volume.

2. APHA Policy Statement 7601: Committee for a National Health Service. APHA Policy Statements: 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; current volume.

3. APHA Policy Statement 9502: Toward a Comprehensive, Universal National Health Program. APHA Policy Statements: 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; current volume.

4. Employee Benefit Research Institute. EBRI survey examines Americans' confidence in the health care system. Preliminary findings. September 10, 1999. Accessed September 11, 1999.

5. U.S. Census Bureau. Health insurance coverage: 1998. Accessed October 16,1999.

6. International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Health care cost statistics. 1999. Accessed November 5, 1999.

7. Manian FA. Whither continuity of care? N. Eng. J. Med. 1999:340(17).

8. Fagin CM. Nurses, patients and managed care. New York Times, March 16, 1999.

9. Jaklevic MC. Associations join pro-union ranks; doc, nurse organizations want to give their members a stronger voice, new services. Mod. HealthCare July 5, 1999, p.6.

10. Starr P. Why health care reform might make it this time. Washington Post, October 17, 1999, page B05.

11. A frustrated and angry nation. Newsweek, November 8, 1999. Poll conducted for the Discovery Health Channel by the firm of Penn, Schoen & Berland.


Implementation Suggestion

APHA will establish a task force on universal health care, composed of section and affiliate representatives, as well as APHA leaders on this issue, dedicated to promoting a leadership role for APHA in the emerging national dialogue.