Three years ago, we launched United States of Care around a simple but ambitious goal — that everyone in this country should have affordable health care. In that time, we’ve made it our mission to seek and understand people’s shared and unique needs to drive health policy innovation and partner with policymakers and stakeholders to pass and implement durable solutions. We strive to place people at the center of health care reform by redefining the issue in human, not political terms and supporting a positive, practical, and lasting people-centered approach.
When we started, we knew there were no shortcuts to the work we wanted to do and that we’d need great people who believed in our mission. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have assembled such a talented and dedicated staff. We are also extremely grateful for our Board of Directors, Founder’s Council, Entrepreneurs Council, and Voices of Real Life, whose exceptional leadership, guidance, and perspective inform our work.
In 2018 and 2019, we built partnerships, gained momentum, and became a trusted resource in several key states. We saw movement on policy issues core to our mission in states across the country, validating our theory that states are in a position to make a difference now, in increasing access to affordable health care. Since the summer of 2019, USofCare has undertaken various research efforts to better understand the American people’s shared and differing needs and experiences when it comes to health care. We also launched the Building Blocks of Health Reform initiative to serve as a policy innovation hub – mapping the health care system and combining on-the-ground evidence with listening research to develop policy solutions that meet people’s needs.
Then 2020 arrived… Certainly, at the time USofCare was founded, we never anticipated that just a few years into our forming, a once-in-a-century pandemic would upend the nation’s system of health care forever. Nevertheless, we swung into action almost immediately knowing that our mission to ensure that every single American has access to quality affordable health care has never been more important.
Sadly, as I write this, tens of millions of Americans have been infected, and nearly half a million have died – with almost a quarter of deaths occurring in the last month alone. The pandemic has sparked a devastating economic crisis, with millions out of work and struggling to afford the care they need. We’ve seen a renewed national awakening around equity and racial justice, as the pandemic laid bare the inequities that have plagued the American health care system for centuries. We understand the critical importance of this moment to create a better health care system in the wake of COVID-19 – and that we have a vital role in manifesting that vision.
Responding to the Ongoing Pandemic
The issues illuminated by the convergence of the pandemic, the economic crisis, and race in America have been fundamental to our mission and the policies we’ve worked to advance. Specifically, how people can get the care they need; structural barriers to health, especially in communities of color; the fragility of coverage that goes away when you lose your job; and the ability to seek testing and care without worrying about the cost. Without question, bold and urgent action is needed, and USofCare has been front and center in shaping what that looks like.
When the pandemic started, we shifted our resources to provide immediate support for state and federal government and public response needs, leveraging our expertise, capacity, network, and resources to support effective responses to the pandemic.
Now, almost a year into our pandemic-response work, USofCare has achieved a number of noteworthy successes through this challenging time for our country. We’ve developed valuable resources for state and federal officials and health care leaders. We’ve honed our understanding of people’s needs during the pandemic and demonstrated our ability to link people-centered messaging and values to our policy recommendations for state and federal policymakers. We’ve also partnered with COVIDExitStrategy.com to bring reliable information to the public on the virus spread, which has garnered attention in dozens of national media outlets, various state newspapers; and many local and regional publications.
As USofCare embarks on its fourth year and America continues to navigate the pandemic and recovery that follows, we understand the critical importance of this moment to create a better more equitable health care system in the wake of COVID-19 – and our role in making sure that policy solutions focus on meeting people’s needs. We are focused on expanding access to affordable coverage options; addressing the racial health disparities laid bare by the pandemic; exploring how innovative approaches like virtual care can serve as tools to address inequities rather than widening them; ensuring people have access to the care they need to ensure their mental health and wellbeing in the face of compounding traumas; and continuing to support pandemic response needs, including amplifying accurate, science-based information on vaccines.
USofCare will continue to deepen its research efforts and hone its unique approach to listening to people to better understand shared and different needs and tie them to policy recommendations. We’ll also leverage our team’s expertise in the existing health care system, working with our vast network to identify solutions that will meet people’s needs, and work with policymakers at the state and federal levels to enact change.
In his inaugural address, President Biden declared that “We must come together as one nation” and end our “uncivil war.” Indeed, USofCare has always believed critical challenges must be met in a way that is politically durable, representing the needs shared by Americans regardless of their political party.
Finding common ground and driving action amid political divisions will require empathy, open minds, listening, bipartisanship, and, ultimately, smart solutions. We believe USofCare is uniquely positioned to assist in this national rebuilding. Without question, our partners, funders, and supporters are vital to the success of our mission and our ability to drive change during this critical time for healing and unity.
Thank you for your passionate commitment to building a better health care system in which everyone in America has access to high quality, affordable health care.