Campaign for Better Care
Supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies and led by the National Partnership for Women & Families, in partnership with Community Catalyst and the National Health Law Program, the Campaign for Better Care aims to ensure that health reform improves the way we deliver health care so that it will finally work for the most vulnerable among us -- older adults with multiple health conditions and their families.
This month on Key Feature, Lynn Friss Feinberg, Director of the Campaign for Better Care at the National Partnership for Women & Families in Washington D.C. answers questions about the Campaign.
Q: Why is the need for better care urgent?
A: Successfully reforming health care requires putting patients first and improving how their care is delivered. This is particularly important for older adults with multiple chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer's disease. These vulnerable older adults make the heaviest use of the current health care system, at the highest cost, but with the poorest outcomes. In fact, 20% of Medicare beneficiaries with five or more chronic conditions account for more than two-thirds of total Medicare spending. But too often, they don't get the care they want or need.
Q: What are the key policy issues that the Campaign is addressing?
A: The Campaign's policy agenda reflects a reformed health care system that is truly patient- and family-centered, comprehensive and well coordinated, anchored in primary care, and linked to community supports. A primary goal of the Campaign is to build a strong and lasting consumer voice for better health care, by mobilizing consumer advocates, older adults and their families.
To achieve the Campaign's goal, consumers must play a major role in shaping the implementation of health care reforms and redesigning our delivery system. The Campaign is advocating for:
- New models of care that are patient- and family-centered and include services like geriatric and caregiver assessment, care planning, transition management, and support for family caregivers;
- New payment strategies that reward better quality, care coordination, and communication among providers, patients, and family caregivers;
- Quality and accountability for performance measurement that drives quality, holds providers accountable, and gives us the tools we need to assess and improve care;
- Health information technology that supports team-based, coordinated, and patient- and family-centered care;
- Consumer voice and empowerment to ensure that providers regularly solicit feedback from patients and their families and use that information to improve the care they deliver; and empower patients and their caregivers to make informed decisions and effectively manage their health through the right tools and support.
Q: Who can join/support the Campaign and how?
A: Anyone can join the Campaign by signing up at www.CampaignforBetterCare.org. Encourage your colleagues, friends and family members to join this growing grassroots movement.
We also have formed a broad-based coalition of over 100 national, state and local consumer organizations representing diverse constituencies that are uniting to work on these issues. The Campaign also is supported by a wide range of stakeholder allies and advisors from the clinical, policy, research, and aging communities.
Complementing the National Consumer Coalition, our partner, Community Catalyst, is mobilizing diverse advocacy organizations and networks in six states (Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin).
If your state or local organization would like to join the National Consumer Coalition, or be part of one of the six state Campaigns noted above, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How does the Campaign affect family caregivers?
A: Chronic illness not only affects individuals, but also families. Family members and friends who provide care to people with chronic conditions are themselves at risk — physically, emotionally, and financially. They frequently experience great frustration and feel overwhelmed with the fragmented and uncoordinated health care system. This must change.
We are actively seeking to engage family caregivers to join the Campaign, help to spread the word, give voice to their issues through personal stories, and become advocates for a better way of delivering health care to older adults and their families.
The Campaign's story collection project puts a "face" on the experiences of family caregivers with the fragmented health care system, and helps translate personal and family struggles into the meaningful solutions we all need. To submit a story go to:
Q: What are the Campaign's accomplishments to date?
A: The Campaign has had much early success in bringing together a wide range of voices to advocate for our policy agenda, including the development of a broad-based National Consumer Coalition. In addition, we have built a group of nearly 20,000 activists taking regular action online to both raise awareness about the Campaign and our policy agenda and take direct action with policy makers. To that end, we secured more than 6,000 letters to HHS Secretary Sebelius to counter opposition attempts to weaken the requirements for "meaningful use" of Health Information Technology.
Q: What were the challenges you faced so far implementing the Campaign?
A: We know that family caregivers are busy and, often, overwhelmed. A key challenge of the Campaign is to identify ways that we can engage and support caregivers in advocacy work without further overwhelming them.
Another key challenge the Campaign has faced is all of the negative rhetoric around health care reform. It has, therefore, been a focus of our communications work to put the truth back into the discussion and help to clarify the reality of the new health care law whenever we can.
Q: What is the Campaign's vision of better care?
A: We envision a team-based system of coordinated care for vulnerable older adults that is anchored in a primary care practice skilled in geriatrics, and linked to social supports. This system will be organized to deliver the right care, in the right setting, at the right time. It will deliver quality, patient- and family-centered care to maintain the individual's overall well-being and quality of life; reduce suffering; provide continuity of care; and prevent conflicting diagnoses, medical errors, harmful drug interactions, unnecessary hospitalizations, and failure to connect people with community-based services and supports.
Q: In a short statement, what is the "bottom line" message this Campaign offers to professionals? How can professionals use this message in their practice?
A: The Campaign for Better Care aims to make sure that health reform is implemented in ways that give people the comprehensive, coordinated health care they need — especially older adults with multiple chronic conditions and their families. Those of us who work in the field of aging or disability issues know all too well how fragmented our current system is, and why we need a better way.
One of the Campaign's key goals is to build a consumer movement of and for older adults to advocate for the comprehensive, coordinated, patient- and family-centered care they need and deserve. Be a part of it! Encourage your clients and their families to get involved too — to share their personal health care stories and make their voices heard for meaningful change.