Health care activist, author to speak on health reform act

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Richard .


KALAMAZOO—A noted health care activist and author will speak in mid-November at Western Michigan University.

Richard Kirsch, author of the book "Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States," will speak at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Fetzer Center on how ordinary citizens fought for the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The lecture and a reception afterward are free and open to the public as part of the Burian University-Community Lecture Series.

Kirsch's book offers a vivid, first-person account of how health care reform came to be, revealing how a reform campaign led by grassroots organizers played a crucial role in President Obama's signing of health reform legislation in March 2010.

The outcome of the Nov. 6 election may have a big impact on the health care reform act, as well as the tenor of Kirsch's lecture. But the legislation's fate is only part of the story, Kirsch maintains.

"One thing that's true about the fight over the Affordable Care Act is that it shows grassroots politics can still matter," Kirsch says. "It was grassroots activists with personal stories who led the fight for its passage. With all the money in politics today, organized citizens can still make change."

Richard Kirsch

As the national manager and chief spokesperson of Health Care for America Now, Kirsch led that grassroots campaign. Currently, he is senior adviser to USAction and a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Since the 1980s, he has worked for Citizen Action of New York and for USAction affiliates in Illinois and New Jersey.

He has authored op-eds on health policy and several studies on health care reform, while Families USA named him Health Care Consumer Advocate of the Year. He also received the New York Statewide Senior Action Council Human Services Advocacy Award for his "vision, boldness and relentless dedication in the pursuit of health care for all."

Burian University-Community Lecture Series

Established in memory of the founding dean of the WMU College of Health and Human Services, the Burian University-Community Lecture Series brings members of the community and University together to interact with leaders in the field, focusing on the qualities of health and human services that were the essence of Bill Burian's mission.

Registration for the lecture is not required, but is appreciated at or by calling (269) 387-2663.

For more information about the book "Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States," visit