White House Forum on Health Reform

Last week I attended the White House Forum on Health Reform in Burlington, VT. Which was hosted by Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform. My colleague from MBA HealthGroup and I were among a few hundred people who attended. As we were entering the facility at the University of Vermont where the meeting was being held, we walked through hundreds of protesters campaigning for a single-payer system.

The Health Reform forum was attended by a well rounded group of healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, patients, healthcare executives (hospital CEOs, CMOs, Medical Society Presidents, owners of medical device companies, pharmacists, legislators, etc.)

Both governors and Nancy-Ann Deparle sat in the middle of the circular rows of seats, and fielded questions from the audience in a town meetings style. Questions or comments from the audience focused on the lack of healthcare coverage, the burden of administrative costs in healthcare, the rising costs of health insurance, the shortage of physicians and especially primary care physicians, health information technology like electronic health records, and the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs.

Attendees bantered back and forth about what needs to be done to fix the healthcare system in America, and many people talked about what a Utopian healthcare system would look like. Governor Deval Patrick commented “Let’s not get caught up on how to make our healthcare system perfect….or else we will just talk and not walk”.

A preacher from Massachusetts got his chance to speak towards the end of the forum. He eloquently described that everything the attendees and speakers were saying at this event boiled down to a few main points. One, healthcare is a human right, and every human being is entitled to healthcare. Two, everything we do to fix this healthcare system should at least achieve one main goal – saving lives.

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