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Leaders discussing health-care reform

September 16, 2008

Many challenges facing Arizona’s health-care system seem insurmountable.

Among the most pressing are an aging and growing population needing increased health-care services, rising medical costs and caring for the uninsured.  

Health-care reform was the topic of a conference held at Arizona State University’s Old Main building and attended by business, medical, political and academic leaders from across the state.

The Southwest Conference on Health Care Reform, hosted by Mayo Clinic, Arizona State University and the Project for Arizona’s Future, was held to raise awareness of the need for patient-centered reform.

Speakers and participants include: Michael Crow, Arizona State University president; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano; Dr. Victor Trastek, Mayo Clinic in Arizona chief executive officer; and Gene Karp, Project for Arizona’s Future president of the board.

President Crow cited taking a measured, contemplative approach to health-care renewal through Mayo’s partnership with Arizona State University. He also pointed out the massive amount of energy that is going into fighting diseases such as cancer, but said that more needs to be done to eliminate behaviors that cause it such as tobacco use.

“We’ve lost track that large-scale health issues are derivative of behavior,” Crow said.

And he cited ongoing work at the university including reshaping policy to look at science through a more comprehensive agenda, building advanced information systems to increase effectiveness and lower costs, using outcome-based healthcare models that measure progress and looking at health-care economics.

“I won’t walk you though the infant mortality variation by ethnicity in the U.S., or the survival rates and lifespan for people based on income in the U.S., but we should be ashamed of ourselves,” Crow said.

Participants at the conference listened to videotaped healthcare testimonials and reflected how they felt about healthcare issues through laptops set up at every table. Taking into account the work that has been done by the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center, participants discussed and compared the Policy Center’s reform recommendations within the context of regional health-care issues that providers, insurance companies, employers and patients throughout Arizona face.

Mayo Clinic formed its Health Policy Center in 2006 to bring together healthcare stakeholders from patients to national thought leaders for events that will develop new, consensus-driven principles and actions to accelerate healthcare reform.

While health-care costs continue to rise throughout the country, Mayo proposes to address health-care challenges through universal health insurance, improved payment systems, better information technology, lower costs and improved patient outcomes.

Crow invited the audience to “rethink everything” about current healthcare models, rethink science and define specific healthcare objectives.