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The Picture of Health: How Arts Advocates Weigh In on the Health Care Debate

There are at least 2.2 million working artists in America, 300,000 of whom don’t have health insurance, according to federal statistics. Some are self-employed and can’t afford individual plans. Some work for non-profits or part-time jobs that don’t offer insurance plans.

Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy non-profit, has made the health care debate one of its primary issues as proposed legislation moves through Congress. This August, Americans for the Arts and more than 20 other arts non-profits released a statement outlining priorities for a health care bill as it would apply to the cultural sector.

Robert Lynch, the organization’s president and CEO, believes any health care bill must include an option that is more affordable and accessible than what’s available now. Cost is “the number one obstacle” for artists, says Lynch.

Americans for the Arts also advocates for a universal health care option for artists who haven’t been insured for a period of time and are at risk of being denied for pre-existing conditions; help for smaller non-profits organizations to come up with less expensive options for group insurance plans; and incentives for artists and arts workers who play a roll in creating healing atmospheres in hospitals or do art therapy.

Art Beat talked to Lynch earlier this fall:

Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Brown talked to Lynch in March about the state of arts funding across the country.

We’ll have more on the health care debate coming up soon on Art Beat, including interviews with artists about how they manage their health care. You can also read more about the national debate on our Rx for Reform page.

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