Earlier this year President Obama declared his resolution to enact comprehensive health care reform by the end of 2009. (Read a live blog from the event here) The Administration is conducting forums, igniting conversations, ideas and solutions with health care leaders, professionals, employers, academic researchers, and rural and urban communities across the country. Each community, geographic region, ethnicity, gender, age group have their own experiences, challenges, opinions and ideas on how to reform our health care into a system that works for all. Part of the conversation is highlighting what doesn’t work. For example, the typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone (see The Costs of Inaction at HealthReform.gov). Also, in the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s 2008 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports, a few highlights on what’s not working include:
- 40% of recommended care is not received by patients.
- Only 40% of diabetic patients received 3 recommended diabetic preventive exams in the past year, and this rate has not improved over time.
- Disparities in health care persist. Minority patients receive disproportionately poor care compared to Caucasian patients. At least 60%of quality measures have not improved for minorities compared to Caucasians in the past 6 years. (See our recent article on health care disparities in Medicare beneficiaries’ end-of-life-care.)
- 1 in 7 hospitalized Medicare patients experience one or more adverse event.
- Only half of obese adults and children are given advice to exercise more and eat a healthy diet.
- 7 out of 10 adults with mood, anxiety, or impulse disorders received inadequate treatment or no treatment at all.
- Patient safety measures have worsened by nearly 1% each year for the past 6 years.
In taking a good look at what is currently happening – what is working and what isn’t – we have a foundation to reshape our current system.
To facilitate this reform, the Obama Administration has a website, HealthReform.gov. Here you can find a wealth of information, perspectives and reports on what’s happening in health care nationally and locally.
In addition, KQED’s Healthy Dialogues program recently launched a blog, Healthy Ideas: Californians Weigh In on Health Care Reform, where a group of thought-leaders, health care professionals and reform advocates share their ideas on how best to reshape our health care, from a California perspective. Our state has over 6.6 million uninsured people and over 4.4 million people on Medicare; both of these groups are larger in Californina than in any other state in the nation. California’s input in shaping our health care reform is unique and essential for Washington to hear.
New articles are posted each week and are open for public comments. You can visit the blog and add your thoughts, ideas and contributions to reshaping the health of our nation. Healthy Ideas is an 8-week project ending July1, 2009. Article topics include:
- covering the uninsured;
- eliminating health disparities;
- improving quality access; and
- slowing costs.
Our country’s health care reform is projected to lower costs and ban insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Much is on the table for discussion, and the goal is to offer all Americans access to affordable quality health care .
For more information on our nation’s health care reform, visit: