Anthony Wright on gaining access to the health care system

Anthony Wright is the Executive Director at Health Access, a non-profit advocacy organization focused on helping “those that are excluded, including the undocumented” gain access to health care.

I’ve known Anthony for a little more than a year now, and he’s one of the most effective consumer advocates I’ve met in any state in which we’ve had the opportunity to work.

Listening to his comments might seem like they are a basic run down of what his organization does.  And that’s true.

But there is also a deep level of understanding about how what it takes to make the system work for folks that the system doesn’t always work for.  It’s found in his language, and it’s subtle, but it’s there.  Such as:

  • Having “access to care, and that starts with coverage,” a careful parsing of care and coverage which are clearly different.  This points to his understanding of how the health care system works.
  • The notion of the “excluded” is language with extensive history and social meaning in other nations (“les exclus”), but one which is largely foreign in the US. This highlights his thoughtful approach to understanding social power dynamics.
  • “…At the state level, at the county level,” is a recognition not only that health is multi-jurisdictional, which it is. But if you’re thinking about lower income populations, that probably includes conversations about criminal justice, housing and behavioral health.  Those are largely county-led services, where as Medi-Cal is primarily state led (though regional as well).

I highlight this because I think the interesting part of what Anthony is saying is not so much in the totality of his point, but in the subtle “code,” or meta-language that he uses so fluently here.

If you’re a health care administrator, you’re looking for things like the first bullet to tell you someone understands the nuances of the system.  If you’re a social justice activist, you’re looking for language like that in the second bullet.  And, if you’re looking to try to tie these threads together where the rubber meets the road at the service level, the third bullet is reassuring.

Savvy, Mr. Wright.  Savvy.