Marylanders air views on health care for videotape to be seen by Congress

August 11, 1993|By Holly Selby | Holly Selby,Staff Writer

Squinting slightly in the afternoon sun, Dr. Elliot Cazes peered into a camera and said that preventive medicine should be the top priority in health care reform.

Another speaker, Bette Stewart, whose son was diagnosed at age 8 as severely depressed and later recovered, said her priority was early detection of emotional illness.

And Elaine Feeney, clinical coordinator for Bon Secours Home Health, said that affordable insurance for the working poor is No. 1.

The three Baltimore-area residents and about 15 others were videotaped yesterday in front of the University of Maryland Medical Center downtown as part of a three-month effort to capture on film what Americans want most in health care reform.

Ms. Stewart is executive director of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Maryland, and Dr. Cazes is a medical resident at University of Maryland Hospital.

By September, the Baltimore video and videos from the 49 other states will be edited into an hourlong production for viewing by Congress and the White House, said Kathy Gardner, project director. The idea is "to give people a chance to speak out," she said.

Organizer of the effort is HealthRight, a year-old coalition of national health associations brought together by the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare of Washington. Other sponsors include groups such as the Child Welfare League and the March of Dimes.

Last year the coalition made a video featuring comments by political leaders.

"Then the idea came to us that we needed to talk to the people," said Kathleen Brown, director of public affairs at the Washington-based Caring Institute, one of the video project's sponsors.

Locations for taping are chosen to get a diverse group of speakers, Ms. Gardner said.

Previous stops included an Indian reservation in Washington state, an AIDS care center in San Francisco and the steps of the state Capitol in Madison, Wis.

But to ensure a good turnout, sponsors contact their local chapters.

So the lineup in Baltimore yesterday included mostly members of those organizations, plus a few random choices like Dr. Cazes, who happened by with his young son.

Baltimore was video tour stop No. 62.

Among those who got to speak their minds on health-care reform was David McDaniel, executive director of Bay Area Health Care.

His subject was reducing costs by decriminalizing drugs: "We should look at drugs as a health, not a criminal, issue," he said. "Look at the cost of police, courts, incarceration. And then we end up taking care of drug-related health problems anyway, like crack babies."

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