Thursday's White House Forum on Health Reform brought together people who have a stake in our health care system with people who have the ability to change it. Prior to his inauguration, President Obama called on Americans to hold community discussions about health care. More than 9,000 Americans signed up to host discussions in all 50 states and more than 30,000 Americans attended these discussions. These community groups submitted reports to the White House that detailed their concerns about the health care system and their suggestions for reform. At the Forum, several of these community participants joined health care experts to participate in the Forum discussions.
Did these community representatives have any meaningful impact on Thursday’s discussion? Let’s hope so – engaging members of our nation’s communities adds a necessary human element to these debates as they begin to take shape and hopefully will demonstrate to those who can effect change that every ordinary person must be involved in this important national discussion. The President expressed his desire see change by the end of this year. We should harness the energy generated by yesterday's discussions to promote actions that result in health reform efforts and engage all Americans - all "stakeholders" - in these efforts.