48 million Americans. That’s the latest estimate of how many Americans are living without health insurance. President Obama has promised to reduce that number by expanding health care coverage in the U.S. Key players in the reform debate met to do some brainstorming in Burlington, Vermont, today.
Two hours before the forum began, a crowd from all over New England gathered outside the Davis Center at the University of Vermont, seizing an opportunity to send the White House a message about health care.
The event was organized by the Obama administration, hosted by Vermont Governor Jim Douglas and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and intended to create conversation about health care reform.
This is the second of five White House regional forums on health reform. The first was in Michigan and there are three more to come in California, Iowa, and North Carolina in late March and April.
Douglas and Patrick touted steps taken in recent years to bring coverage to 92% of Vermont and 97% of Massachusetts residents, making these two states, they say, models for the rest of the nation.
White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann Deparle says what she heard was urgency, and widespread concern about affordability and accessibility.
Deparle says health care reform is a fiscal imperative that will not be easy and may not be perfect, but is essential in turning this country around.