care reformers at every turn in Iowa
Iowa Presidential Politics.com
Brown / Iowa Presidential Politics.com
of purple: Purple shirts dot the crowd as Iowa
for Health Care supporters listen to Sen. Joe Lieberman
Tom Harkin's "Hear It from the Heartland" forum
on Sept. 21, 2003.
candidates arrive at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, the
first thing they're likely to see isn't local campaign officials
large ad prominently displayed in the airport asks candidates what
they plan to do to make health care affordable and available to
The group responsible
for advertisements and billboards all around the area is Iowa for
Health Care, a group of more than 3,000 nurses, physicians and other
voters here interested in health care. An additional 1,000 supporters
are spread throughout the state, the group spokesperson said.
is to make sure health care is a candidate's number one priority,"
said Stephanie Mueller, communications director of Iowa for Health
The group brings
together people from a variety of different backgrounds with the
goal of making health care issues more prevalent in campaigns and
giving voters the information they need to make their own informed
decisions, she said.
Clad in purple
shirts with stethoscopes around their necks, representatives of
Iowa for Health Care are hard to miss at political events. They
are likely to show up at any and every political event around the
state from the Hear it From the Heartland forums hosted by Sen.
Tom Harkin (D-IA) in Cedar Rapids to retired Gen. Wesley Clark's
visit to the Hamburg Inn in Iowa City.
to be at about every event," said Mueller. "It's hard
not to notice us."
and energy are paying off.
effort has made health care high profile for these campaigns,"
said David Redlawsk, assistant professor of political science at
The University of Iowa. "All of the candidates have had to
do something. Not all have a health care plan as such, but they've
had to respond."
The group is
using Iowa's status as the first in the nation primary event to
establish their cause, and the demographic make-up in Iowa may also
not surprising that candidates are responding in Iowa because of
Iowa's older population," said Redlawsk. "The audience
is here, and the candidates respond to the audience."
in turn, are taking advantage of the resources available from Iowa
for Health Care, even calling to ask for nurses' opinions on certain
issues and asking for nurses to appear at events. Since the group
will not endorse a candidate, their appearances are strictly to
give perspective on the health care industry, according to Mueller.
group is also gathering supporters from local University of Iowa
students who share an interest in the health sciences. Susan Lehmann,
a clinical instructor in the UI College of Nursing, encourages her
students to attend political events in order to better inform themselves
on the politics of health care issues that may concern them.
of these students have not been very politically awake," said
Lehmann. "It teaches them what's going on in the real world."
a UI junior majoring in nursing, has become involved with Iowa for
Health Care through Lehmann's class. Last month, Binegar attended
a Hear it From the Heartland forum with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.)
and has recently developed a project focused on the uninsured and
underinsured, with plans to initiate a letter writing campaign in
the near future.
a chance to become more involved," said Binegar. "You
can see the influence and impact that Iowa for Health Care is having
on the candidates. It's really neat to see such great efforts coming
is the first time so many people are coming together like this,"
she said. "It shows that more and more Iowans and Americans
are feeling the effects, and it's a sign that things are going to
Sara Westergaard at firstname.lastname@example.org.