You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

April 20: Rick Brown, for National Health Insurance

April 20, 2013
Rick_Brown-cE. Richard (Rick) Brown, founder of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and a longtime advocate for national health insurance, died at 70 on this date in 2012. He was “a tireless advocate for the uninsured,” notes a UCLA Newsroom obituary, “and he promoted the development of health data surveys to both dispel persistent myths about the uninsured and document the devastating consequences of the chronic lack of health insurance for millions of Americans.” Brown came from a poor, progressive Jewish family (his father was a union organizer) and experienced first-hand the humiliations of “medical charity” when his brother smashed his bike into a tree and the family had no basic health coverage. In 1990, Brown co-authored California’s first single-payer health care legislation. In 2001, he developed the California Health Interview Survey, which produced its data from interviews with more than 55,000 California households. The research became the cornerstone of dozens of California health-related laws. Brown was also full-time senior consultant to President Bill Clinton’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform and served as a senior health policy advisor for the Barack Obama for President Campaign. “My mother always remembered the stigma she felt when the eligibility workers at the county hospital grilled her about her income and were very demeaning to her because she couldn’t pay the medical bills.” —Rick Brown