Viewpoint: Obama's plan gives child health care another chance

December 1, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama's health care plan promises improved access to health care for children.

It will be nearing mid-December before readers have access to this issue of Contemporary Pediatrics, but I'm writing less than a week after the historic election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. It's difficult to think of any other single event that is likely to have a greater impact on the health of children and on the practice of pediatrics than the election results.

During the past week, in private conversations and in the press, the significance of the election has been speculated about-sometimes in articulate commentary, sometimes with tears, and sometimes with shouts of joy and disbelief.

Underlying these reactions is relief that the eight years of the previous administration is nearly over, and we now have the opportunity to start off in a new direction with new leadership. Some are gleeful about that new direction, and many are apprehensive. Given the magnitude of the work to be done by this new administration, success will likely be judged in relative terms.

In addition to improved access for children, Obama's plan would support the medical home and the coordination of care for chronic conditions for people of all ages, invest in electronic health information technology, and work with schools and communities to create a healthier environment that encourages exercise (bike paths, walking trails) and a nutritious diet.

Accomplishment of all these goals in the midst of an economic crisis will be a challenge even for our young, creative, and forward-thinking new President-elect, but he's been very clear about the direction he plans to take; and, as pediatricians, it will be important that we join him in taking on that challenge.