Bringing Change Home

By Jorge Mursuli, President and CEO Democracia-Ahora on 11/25/2009 @ 03:54 PM

Jorge Mursuli

Jorge Mursuli, President and CEO Democracia-Ahora

In 2008, Latinos came out to vote as we’ve never voted before. Retrospectively, pundits and analysts mused over how it had all happened. Was it immigration? Culturally competent messengers? Increased resources? For those of us on the ground the answer was apparent: all of the above.

But there was something else, something that was bigger than any candidate or any issue, and that was our community’s desire for change. The bill that is in front of the Senate today is a much-needed starting point towards that change. It addresses our communities’ concerns around health disparities, inclusivity, and discrimination.

Now it’s up to us, the same voters who ushered in change, to make sure that this bill is improved so as to ensure the protection and inclusion of all members of our families.

It’s no surprise to anyone who works and lives in our communities that we as Latinos represent the highest percentage of uninsured. This means that we have the most to gain from the Senate’s health care bill. Paradoxically, it means we also have the most to lose if it does not pass and if certain issues are not addressed.

For example, when we talk about affordability – which is the ultimate barrier to health care access – it’s clear that a public option is a necessary means towards that end both in terms of offering increased choice and inspiring competition.

Further, it is time to move from an illness-based system of care to a preventative one. For our community in particular, that means promoting culturally and linguistically competent prevention and health care services, and recruiting more minorities into health professions. While many good doctors can provide diagnosis and care, it sometimes takes an enhanced level of cultural understanding to explain to immigrant mothers and fathers how best to care for their newborns and other loved ones.

In the next few weeks, our community will need to step up and continue our role as agents of change. Let’s encourage our Members of Congress to ensure that health reform is inclusive of our community’s unique needs, that it covers as many uninsured as possible and improves coverage for those who already have it.

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