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Hope, Optimism, and Gratitude This Holiday

Published On November 24, 2020

By: Emily Barson

Our nation’s elected leaders face monumental challenges, including the need to address the pandemic, inequality, the economic crisis, and building a more robust health care system that ensures everyone has access to the care they need when and where they need it. They know they must get to work and that their decisions must reflect the needs of the people who put them there. The incoming administration promises an approach to the pandemic that relies on science and public health experts to offer the most reliable guidance to inform an all-hands-on-deck effort to hold back the current surge of COVID-19 across the country. We know that more resources are needed to support individuals, families, businesses, and states across the country, and we are hopeful that our leaders can come together to provide that critical help. We are thankful for leaders who continue to both fight the immediate scourge of the pandemic and seek practical solutions to offer quality, affordable health care options to their residents.

We know that in order to meet our mission to expand access to health care for everyone, we must build a better, more equitable health care system in the wake of COVID-19. Our country’s health depends on it.

Last Thanksgiving, I offered my sincere gratitude to those joining our effort at United States of Care to ensure everyone can access quality affordable health care no matter who they are, and especially those raising their voices to share their personal health care experiences. We had begun a listening initiative to authentically learn from people’s health care stories, and be a part of building policy solutions that meet their needs. Health care in the news was often covered as political and partisan, but at our kitchen tables, we were realizing there was a connection between everyday Americans that should be at the heart of efforts to reform our system.

Little did I realize that sitting down to reflect a year later, we would be in month 9 of the worst public health crisis in a century, which has exposed and worsened the inequities that have plagued our health care system for generations. This pandemic, and the parallel economic downturn, has left millions without jobs – and health security – during a time when our health is more intertwined than ever with the health of our neighbors and communities. Through our continued listening efforts, connecting with people across the country, we know that during the pandemic people want their leaders to focus on building:

  • A reliable health care system that is fully resourced to support essential workers and available when it is needed, both now and after the pandemic.
  • A health care system that cares for everyone, including people who are vulnerable and those who were already struggling before the pandemic hit. 
  • Accurate information and clear recommendations on the virus and how to stay healthy and safe.
  • Being able to provide for ourselves and our loved ones, especially as we are worried about the financial impact of the pandemic.

As we enter a very different type of holiday season this year, it may be harder to see reasons for hope, optimism, and gratitude. But I want to take a moment to do just that, because the truth is that even in a year as challenging as 2020, there is so much to be thankful for — from the frontline and essential workers who have put their patients and their critical work before their own health; to the neighbors who have supported each other with grocery deliveries; community members supporting their local businesses; and friends and family finding ways to connect in a time of isolation – reminding us that physical distancing doesn’t have to equate to social distance. I’m grateful to the doctors and scientists offering reliable public health guidance on how to keep ourselves safe and contain the virus, and those who have been working tirelessly to develop promising vaccines that offer hope in what has felt like an open-ended period of isolation.

I’m thankful for our network of supporters, donors, and experts who make our work possible. And to the millions of voters who educated themselves, asked questions of the candidates vying for their support, and found ways to vote safely in a pandemic election: thank you!

I hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!