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Recovery Principles for Repeal, Replace, Repair

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
— Mahatma Ghandi

The room was packed at the Primary Care Development Corporation’s (PCDC)* Primary Care Innovation Circle. More than 200 health care executives, providerPCDC logo Blue FINAL 071114s, community-based agency leaders and practitioners assembled to listen to panelists address the most audacious of tasks: the fate of health care in the United States.

The issues discussed at the PCDC’s signature series – an event that convenes health care leaders working to improve the health care system, particularly concerning primary care – were significant and frightening: millions of Americans at risk of losing their coverage or paying more for their benefits or receiving less; billions in federal dollars at risk for states; ambiguity about the survival of Mental Health Parity; primary care sites inundated with patients, etc. These are the same concerns I have as a health care executive at Beacon Health Options, with more than 5 million covered lives in New York State alone.

I stated that we needed to cut through our uncertain future’s gloom and doom, and fall back on the recovery-oriented principles that guide the work that I do with my patients.

Recovery principles and the future of health care

As the evening progressed and the mood grew more somber, it occurred to me that, as a panelist, I needed to take my business hat off and don the hat most familiar to me: the therapist hat. I stated that we needed to cut through our uncertain future’s gloom and doom, and fall back on the recovery-oriented principles[i] that guide the work that I do with my patients. My experience reveals the most important recovery principle to be HOPE. We need to have hope and be the holders of hope when our patients can’t or are unable to do or feel it for themselves. As such, we must all embrace HOPE and continue to fight for the right to quality, affordable health care for everybody. It’s the right thing to do.

In addition to HOPE, we need RESPECT. We need to show respect for all people and not allow further divisions and stigmatization of the “other,” and we need to stop normalizing the thought that taking benefits away from one group is in any way the right way to approach this. But also we need to keep the overall objective front-and-center all the time: we need high-quality, affordable health care for everyone. We also need to respect the facts and the truth in those facts.

Recovery has MANY PATHWAYS, and we need to be open to explore how and what we need to do to ensure that we persevere and obtain our goal of access to health care as a basic right for everyone. Additionally, we need to find our STRENGTHS/RESPONSIBILITY, as a community. As a mass of concerned citizens, we can be powerful and bring about change through demonstrating our opinions and strongly-held beliefs to our elected officials. It’s our responsibility and our strength in moving us closer to our ultimate goal.

Along with all of this is PEER SUPPORT. We need to support each other, within our guilds, silos, work environments, and most importantly, for those we work with, advocate, fight for, and render services to. Lastly, and most importantly, this whole process has to be PERSON-CENTERED. This is about who we are as a society, how we treat our sick and vulnerable, and what emphasis we place on health as a basic human right.

I’m going to continue moving forward, keeping in mind the recovery partnership I establish with my patients as a framework. I hope you all join me on this path forward to affordable, quality health care for everyone as we navigate our uncertain future.

Note: Dr. Petit is on the Board of PCDC.

[i] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/201112220800


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