Elizabeth Edwards fervently urged health care journalists to inform the public

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, passed away today after her long battle with cancer. She advised her husband on his plan for health care reform and later served as an adviser to Barack Obama.

Elizabeth Edwards spoke about health care reform at Health Journalism 2008.

Elizabeth Edwards spoke about health care reform at Health Journalism 2008.

As the keynote speaker at Health Journalism 2008, Elizabeth Edwards urged journalists to make sure candidates told the truth about their health care plans and that journalists have the responsibility to “make the American voting public more informed.”

Edwards said health care reform is “real life with real life consequences if this is put into place.” She talked about living with her diagnosis and her access to the best medical care but said that, on the campaign trail, she met many women with similar conditions who don’t have the resources and care that she does. “Don’t let those people stand alone,” she told the journalists.

AHCJ President Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica, remembers the event:

“I vividly recall, both talking to Elizabeth Edwards and listening to her speech, the passion she had for health care. She told us how fortunate she was to have good health coverage and implored health journalists not to forget those who were not as lucky. She was spirited, witty and direct. I feel fortunate to have met her.”

By then, her husband was no longer in the presidential race but her fast-paced talk focused mainly on John McCain’s health care plan, which she said would not solve the problems in this country.

She pointed to McCain’s plan to allow health insurers to practice nationwide as problematic because states have widely varying regulations that would allow health plans to be based in states with fewer mandates. She predicted patients would experience issues with pre-existing conditions or have high deductibles.

Read more about Edwards’ talk with links to audio, video and a transcript.

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