Fixing Health Care


What Role Will Therapists Play?

May/June 2007


Remember 1994? For those of us who could use some help pinpointing that year's events, on the political and economic scene, it was the year Richard Nixon died, Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House, and the trade gap hit a six-year high, yielding a $108.1 billion deficit (chicken feed compared to the estimated $400 billion deficit for 2007, which will be added to the total public debt of $8.7 trillion). Hope flourished in Africa with the election of Nelson Mandela as the first president of South Africa, and was promptly dimmed by massacres in Rwanda. In the arena of popular culture, some of us were transfixed by the attack on iceskater Nancy Kerrigan and the slo-mo spectacle of the police chasing O. J. Simpson's white Bronco, while others were heartbroken that the World Series was cancelled for the first time ever because of a players' strike. It was also the year in which Congress deliberated on Hillary Clinton's health care plan, and there were high expectations that the nation's fractured health care system would be overhauled, expanded to include everyone in the country, and generally fixed.

On a cold January day in 1994, I sat in front of the huge, two-story fireplace in the living room of Wingspread, a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed house-turned-conference-center in Racine, Wisconsin. I was talking excitedly with a dozen other therapists, physicians, and health care administrators who, like me, had convened for The Wingspread Conference on Collaborative…

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