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by Kathleen O'Connor, Founder and CEO CodeBlueNow!

The year is 1932, The Committee on the Cost of Medical Care said there were four reasons America¹s health care costs so much:

  1. There are too many medical specialists;
  2. There were too many infectious diseases;
  3. We have a disease based system of care not prevention; and
  4. Total lack of community-based health care delivery.

All this is pretty much still true, except for two things. Chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases and Oregon is taking the lead in getting communities involved in health care. 19 of 36 counties in Oregon have taken matters in their own hands to address health care needs in their communities and over 10 other groups are working on system transformation.

CodeBlueNow! is working to find what Oregonians want in a health care system by using our new survey tool, an Opinionnaire®, which helps us find areas of common ground or disagreement.

This year, there is a growing realization, community by community that we are all connected in a fragile health care system. Skyrocketing costs and inefficiencies in health care hurt everyone. If one of us gets ill, loses coverage, or needs expensive treatment, it affects us all through higher costs and reductions in coverage. No one's health is secure unless we address everyone's needs.

I started CodeBlueNow! three years ago to give the public a voice in health care. In my 30+ years as a health journalist, I watched policies get crafted, time and time again, by special interests and partisan leaders, with no attempt to see if these policies actually worked for the people. I'm proud to be in Oregon this year to participate in one of the most robust conversations in the nation about health care reform. I've been traveling around the state, meeting with people to talk about the health care system and their ideas for transforming it.

I have been struck, going around the state, how savvy people are when it comes to health care. They can outline the problems left and right, and they care passionately about the issue.  Not only that, when we start talking with people about health care, the blue and red labels disappear and what really counts is having health care that works for individuals, their businesses,their families, their communities.

Whether in meetings with United Ways, the Grange, the League of Women Voters, Chambers of Commerce, faith communities, cattle ranchers, health care professionals, business leaders or elected officials, Oregonians care about health care.

Many are actively involved in their communities, and many more want to be involved.  CodeBlueNow¹s commitment is to give them that opportunity, to help them speak out about what they need and want in a functioning health care system.

One way we are doing that is to offer an online tool called an Opinionnaire® to assess people¹s attitudes about the health care system.  We are working with groups across the state to distribute this survey as broadly as possible.

The nice feature about this survey instrument is that it easily identifies where we have consensus and common ground, and where we don't have consensus and how solid those agreements and divides are. It offers more than yes/no answers.

We'll deliver the results this fall to show the public will for change. We want to hear from OHSU health reform readers and bloggers as well. Please complete our survey.

We want hear from you:  What do you think about the role of employers? Should they play a major role as they do now?  Who should manage a health care system? Should health care be like automobile insurance? Or should it look like a public utility or public education?  Or fire departments and police--a community responsibility?  If we have to start somewhere, should we start with access or quality?  These are a few of the things we want to learn. Do people believe we need to cover everyone? Should we all have a
basic set of benefits? How strongly do people feel about these issues?

So I encourage you to come online and take the Opinionnaire®.  There is no place (yet)  for general comments, but e-mail us or post a comment on our blog.  We want to find areas where we share common ground and consensus, and where we may need to focus more discussion and dialog.

Several years ago, CodeBlueNow! held a national contest to build a better health care system. We received over 100 ideas. We'll post a few of those on our site as food for thought by mid-October and let people dissect and discuss them. We will be presenting the Opinionnaire® findings in Portland in November. Watch our web site for date and time.

The Opinionnaire® and models are not the end all answers. They are, we hope, additional ways to fuel public discourse about health care reform.

People often tell me that it's hard to imagine a different health care system, because ours is all they know. So we offer these tools as part of the yeasty mix of ideas and numerous efforts here in Oregon.

We hope you will take time to complete our survey.  We want to hear from you.  And, no matter what, get involved--with us or other groups! We need to act as if our health depends on this.

Because it does.

CodeBlueNow's work is Oregon is possible from a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund of the NW Health Foundation.  It is a national, bi-partisan, 501©3

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Join the dialogue here

Sep 29, 2006 4:07:43 PM
sara says

I like the idea of a contest of ideas for health care reform, I am curious to know the top 5 that came from your survey....my top suggestion: pool all (or some equitable amount) of $$$ hospitals spend each year on uncompensated health care and give it to the OHP to administer on behalf of uninsured people in an organized manner. probably would save the system hundreds of millions in direct and indirect costs while give uninsured people predictable access to health care.

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