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With the mid-term elections almost upon us, and campaigning for 2008 soon to begin, Kaiser President Drew Altman and Harvard professor Robert Blendon called on political leaders to speak out on the need for health care reform:

"What health needs most to rise up in American politics is for national political candidates, whether from the political left, right, or center, to begin talking about the issue again as they did in the early nineties. Most important of all are the presidential candidates, who receive so much national media attention. If even one major candidate begins to seriously address health reform, the others will be forced to follow suit. ... If [candidates] do play a leadership role on health, the media will follow, and the agenda-setting power of a debate driven from the top will meet the public's concerns rising up from the bottom like two weather fronts colliding." 

Continue reading "Time for a Wake-Up Call" on Health Care Reform


For many patients with chronic diseases, it would be cheaper to provide free preventive care than to absorb the high cost of repeated emergencies, reports the New York Times. Would such a coordinated approach work in Oregon? Is it possible to care for the 600,000 uninsured Oregonians in this way without bankrupting hospitals and providers? Read the full article.

Continue reading Visonary or enabling? Texas, New York Hospitals try free basic care for uninsured


A new survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and its partners finds that the public’s increasing dissatisfaction with the American health care system appears to be focused primarily on the rising cost of care. Many Americans report that rising costs have hurt their financial well-being and feel that steps should be taken to slow these increases. The survey also shows a sharp growth in poor ratings of the health system: six in 10 Americans rate the health care system as fair (28 percent) or poor (31 percent). The percentage of individuals rating the system as poor has doubled since 1998 (15 percent). But Americans still seem satisfied with the quality of health care they receive, and quality is the primary metric they use when deciding where to go for their health care needs. Read the full results at: www.ebri.org.

Continue reading Dissatisfaction With Health Care System Doubles Since 1998


by Maribeth Healy, Oregonians for Health Security

Earlier this year, Governor Kulongoski directed the Oregon Health Policy Commission to develop a plan to achieve universal health coverage within five years. For discussion purposes, they have spent the last few months developing a straw plan to arrive at universal insurance coverage.

The Commission has developed a straw plan that incorporates many of the reforms recently enacted in Massachusetts. With funding from a grant provided by the Northwest Health Foundation, the Commission is in the process of determining the costs for enacting such a plan.

Continue reading Profile of Health Policy Commission Straw Plan: Massachusetts Moving West?


From time to time, we will bring your attention to resources and books about health care reform. Our inaugural entry is a new book: Redefining Health Care: Creating Value-Based Competition on Results by Michael E. Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg, published by the Harvard Business School Press (2006).

Here is the description of the book:

The U.S. health care system is in crisis. At stake are the quality of care for millions of Americans and the financial well-being of individuals and employers squeezed by skyrocketing premiums--not to mention the stability of state and federal government budgets. In Redefining Health Care, internationally renowned strategy expert Michael E. Porter and innovation expert Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg reveal the underlying--and largely overlooked--causes of the problem and provide a powerful prescription for change.

Check out the lively debate sparked by the book on the blog of Health Affairs.

"In their recently published manifesto, Redefining Health Care (2006), Michael E. Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg — hereafter simply PT — offer a utopian vision of a health system that might occur to anyone possessed of a modicum of common sense but not too familiar with the real world of health care," according to a post by Uwe Reinhardt.

Or this one from James Robinson: "Redefining Health Care is a tour de force, a magisterial analysis, and a long-overdue application to the health sector of core principles of business strategy. It’s also a bit of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears.'"

Continue reading Knowledge is power


Rx for Healthcare will periodically post job or volunteer opportunities related to improving access to our health care system. Please send your notices to shareit@ohsu.edu.

The Commonwealth Fund is searching for a Program Officer for our State
Innovations program, which identifies, evaluates, and helps disseminate
promising state-based programs designed to improve quality, access,
coverage, equity and efficiency of health care. This program is integrally
related to the Fund's Commission on a High Performance Health System.  The
Program Officer will report to Anne Gauthier, Senior Policy Director for
the Commonwealth Fund's Commission on a High Performance Health System and
will work closely with both of us in developing strategic program plans and
program reviews, projects and budgets for the program area and in
supporting the Commission's work. Read complete job description at The Commonwealth Fund site.

Project Access is looking for a project manager. Project Access is a community driven volunteer model for providing coordinated, streamlined health care services to the uninsured. The overarching goal is to improve access and continuity of care for people without insurance who live in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington. This collaborative effort currently includes the Clackamas County Medical Society, Clark County Project Access, Coalition of Community Health Clinics, Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland, the Project Access of Washington County, and the Tri-County Health Care Safety Net Enterprise collectively referred to as the Project Access Operations Council. The expected outcome is the creation of an expanded system of care for the uninsured through coordinated volunteer physicians, unified hospital charity care referral and integrated pharmacy and ancillary services participation. Download complete description.

Continue reading Looking for paid work to change the health care system?



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