Effort To Promote Changes To Louisiana Health Care System
The Louisiana Business Group on Health has launched a statewide effort to promote changes to the state health care system, the Baton Rouge Advocatereports. According to Butch Passman, CEO of the group, the effort seeksto prompt discussions on major health care policy areas, such as costshifting; expansion of health insurance; quality of care and benefits;purchasing pools and similar arrangements; special needs programs; thesafety net system; medical malpractice and the practice of defensivemedicine; and provider license and scope of practice issues.
Thegroup has established a public policy work group to address the issues.Members of the work group include health insurance executives,lobbyists, state officials, think tank representatives, employers,consumer groups, universities, hospitals and an American Indian tribe.The work group established 13 "policy point" teams to discuss areas forchanges to the state health care system.
Julia Kennedy, chairof one of the teams, said, "It's such an unlikely group of bedfellows,that bringing people to some kind of consensus on what the issues areand what the real challenges are that we're facing is just going to bea huge step forward." She added, "Hopefully, this will help us launchthe discussion into the underinsured and just the challenges that smallbusinesses in particular face in providing coverage" (Griggs, BatonRouge Advocate, 11/25).
In related news, the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Healthmight use New Orleans as a laboratory to study whether improvements incommunity health can help address some health problems associated withpoverty. The commission has made no commitments to New Orleans, butcommission directors met last week with Mayor Ray Nagin and KevinStephens, director of the city health department, to tour areasaffected by Hurricane Katrina.
Commission Chair David Satchersaid that policymakers often attribute health problems in places suchas Louisiana -- which has high rates of obesity, diabetes and infantmortality -- to a lack of access to physicians, nurses and hospitalbeds. Satcher added that those factors do not tell the whole story andthat the commission seeks to encourage policymakers to address theunderlying social factors that might predispose some individuals tohealth problems. "The point we're trying to make is that the need totarget social determinants of health, including housing, education,working and learning conditions, whether people are exposed to toxins,"Satcher said, adding, "We believe New Orleans illustrates that pointbetter than any place we can think of right now."
EvangelineFranklin, deputy at the city health department, said, "We see this asan opportunity for partnership with some extremely smart peopleworldwide who agree that the agenda of community health -- safeneighborhoods, the availability of healthy food, access to goodemployment -- is key for making this city not just recover, but thrive"(Moran, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 11/21).
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