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Medical Professionals Make Their Mark on Reform

It was Kim Belshé, the Secretary of California Health and Human Services, who recently made an appeal for “not the politics of reform, but the policy of reform.”

What she meant is that working on the implementation of health care reform in California should be a grassroots affair — that politicians shouldn’t lead reform, but rather, health professionals should take the reins to revamp our health care system.

That’s the idea behind the town hall meeting, “Putting the Care in Obamacare,” that’s being held today (Monday) in Los Angeles, according to Leif Wellington Haase, director of the California program at New America Foundation, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that’s putting on the conference.

“All the folks speaking are involved intimately in the delivery of care,” Haase said. “The idea is to go beyond high-risk pools and insurance reform. These are the people who will have to take ownership for health care reform. From the leader of a clinic to an executive for the largest medical group in Southern California, these are the people who will determine in the long run whether health care reform will actually work.”

The New America Foundation convened the California Task Force on Affordable Care, and recently published a report detailing the results of that effort.

“The heart of health care reform is coverage,” Haase said. “But the brains, so to speak, are all of the pilot programs, all of the demonstration projects, all of the things health professionals are doing to try to change the way health care is paid for and delivered.”

That’s what Haase hopes will bubble to the surface of this conference — practical ideas that could make things better for the patient.

“Hearing messages from policy people won’t make the public or the stakeholders go along with health care reform,” Haase said. “We have people on the panel who are in the policy arena, but also are in the industry or are practicing physicians.”

This conference is just the beginning, he said, and there will be many more discussions and hashing-out of just how health care reform money could be spent. “It’s part of a bigger conversation about how we get better value for the money we spend on health care,” Haase said.

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