The Siamese Twins Of Policy: Health Care And The Economy

The Wonk Room has long highlighted the importance of addressing health care reform in the midst of the economic recession. Earlier this year, the Boston Globe reported that the economic crisis is making patients sick, “spawning headaches and churning stomachs, and even causing bouts of anxiety and depression among people who never before sought psychiatric help.”

It’s the classic — what came first, the chicken or the egg? Economists argue that health care spending has contributed to our long-term economic instability, and the states are complaining that the sour economy has thrown people off their employer coverage and into state-funded programs.

Today’s USA Today points to yet another article that highlights the importance of addressing both crises immediately and simultaneously:

Signs abound that the battered economy is causing serious damage to the mental health and family lives of a growing number of Americans. Requests for therapists have soared, Americans say they’re stressed out, and domestic-violence and suicide hotlines are reporting increased calls.


Proponents of comprehensive reform — those who believe that “this is the moment” — should be using these write-ups in making the case for reforming the system now and doing so in a big way. After all, the two crises are like Siamese twins: it takes a whole lot of effort to separate them and you usually don’t see good results if you do.