A headline on Life and Health News this morning caught my eye. It read, “Who will Lead? It referred, of course, to the void left in the Senate by the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. The article pointed out that Kennedy’s death could affect the leadership of the Senate Banking Committee as well as of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and discussed the possible changes in the committee leadership roles.
But, this headline got me thinking. Who will lead the healthcare reform movement going forward? I nominate President Barack Obama. Not for his tendencies to respond to massive problems with even more massive spending programs, but because of his ability to inspire and lead people.
I am convinced that we will never solve the healthcare crisis in the U.S. until we can get our citizens to take some personal responsibility for their health status. With obesity rates in 31 states exceeding 25 percent, we are literally a country headed for a heart attack. There is no amount of spending that will be able to change this medical outcome.
What can change this outcome is to get people moving. Get people out of their cars and SUVs and onto bikes and sidewalks. Get people out of the fast food drive through at lunch time and into the gym.
And, who better to lead this charge than Obama. He is clearly the fittest president we have had in years. He is a role model for millions of Americans and he and his wife, Michelle, can lead by their words and their actions.
Kennedy made being fit cool.
During the 1960’s President John F. Kennedy made being fit cool. It is once again time to engage the entire country in a fitness challenge. Maybe this time instead of the touch football games in the yard, it will be three-on-three basketball in the driveway or the park. Who cares? Just move!
The country needs to be told the truth. “Listen, we are running out of money and cannot afford to take care of you when you make yourself sick by your over eating and lack of activity. So what we are going to do instead is help you get healthy and stay healthy.”
Now is the time to scrap the universal healthcare approaches of the past 40 years that focus only on providing coverage, and to look to a future of delivering health by encouraging personal responsibility for avoiding the avoidable. If we can do this, I think, the money will be there for everyone in this country who needs basic medical care and to provide treatment for all health issues that are not the predictable outcomes of lifestyle choices.
Barack Obama is the person who can do this. He is the person who should do this. Ted Kennedy passed the torch to him last summer in Denver. He is the future and he should use his position to shape policy that makes sense for the realities of today and the future.