March 2003

Market-based Organizations Participate in "Cover the Uninsured Week"

"This was a unique opportunity to focus local and national attention on the problems of the uninsured."

Many of Catholic Health Initiatives’ market-based organizations supported local events related to "Cover the Uninsured Week," March 10—16, which was organized to raise awareness of the plight of more than 41 million uninsured Americans. The week was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a diverse group of national organizations, including the Catholic Health Association.

While "Cover the Uninsured Week" events took place across the nation, the organizers funded activities in 27 target cities, including the Catholic Health Initiatives markets of Denver, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Little Rock, Ark.; and Seattle/Tacoma, Wash. Activities in these cities included town hall meetings; on-campus events at medical, dental, public health and nursing schools; health fairs; meetings of business and labor leaders;and interfaith events. Market-based organization representatives in these and many other communities participated as organizers, facilitators, panelists, presenters and moderators.

"All of us at Mercy were very pleased to be part of the ‘Cover the Uninsured Week’ coalition in Des Moines," said Annette Bair, vice president for mission and ethics at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Several Mercy representatives served on the "Cover the Uninsured Week" coalition in Des Moines and on various subcommittees that planned the week of events. "There was excellent attendance at each day’s events, and good media coverage as well," Bair said. "Senator Tom Harkin spoke at the town hall meeting, which was a very good way to kick off the week."

At the end of the week, Bair served as moderator at an interfaith breakfast attended by clergy from area congregations. "The idea was to present the plight of the uninsured as a moral issue for our community, and to have the clergy take the discussion to their congregations during their weekend services," she said.

Colleen Scanlon, RN, JD, senior vice president of advocacy for Catholic Health Initiatives, praised market-based organizations for their involvement. "This was a unique opportunity to focus local and national attention on the problems of the uninsured, which will help strengthen our ongoing advocacy commitment for health care coverage for all," she said.