May 21, 2012

Health care forum

A free public forum examining cost efficiency and accountability in Minnesota’s health care delivery system will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, May 21 at Central Lakes College, Brainerd. It will be hosted by the Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government at CLC. The forum will focus on three questions: As premiums keep rising, can health care delivery ever become affordable again for most consumers, should there be better accountability for how premium dollars are spent, and can financing health care be less complicated?
The event in the Chalberg Theatre features a panel of four speakers:
·         Dane Smith (shown) is a 30-year journalist with the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune. He is president of Growth and Justice, a progressive think tank committed to making Minnesota's economy simultaneously more prosperous and fair.
·         David Feinwachs is a former chief counsel for the Minnesota Hospital Association.
·         Dr. Chuck Sawyer, with the Minnesota Physicians for a National Health Program, is a member of the Health Care For All Minnesota board and senior vice president of Northwestern Health Sciences University.
·         Phil Griffin (shown), a lobbyist for Preferred One, is with the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, a nonprofit trade association which advocates for Minnesota’s current HMO-dominated system.
            Each panelist will present for 15 minutes.
            Smith will present the Lewin Group study on cost savings of a unified, one-payer health care delivery system in Colorado and Minnesota. The study shows significant savings are possible for Minnesota under a unified health care system compared to the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) that sets up a state health insurance exchange for comparative shopping of private plans.
Feinwachs will review his testimony given to legislators and Congress urging accountability for HMO contractors administering state health programs. Unlike other state contractors, these contractors have never been audited.
Sawyer will review the Minnesota Health Plan for creating a one-payer unified system.
Griffin will present the views of the Council of Health Plans on efficiency and accountability in the current multi-payer system.
            The audience will be invited to write advance questions, which will be sorted by the moderator for duplicates and topic relevancy. Moderator is Bob Nelson of the Veterans Administration.
             Sponsors are the Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government at CLC, Health Care for All Minnesota, and Minnesota COACT.
             Contact any of the following for information:
             Minnesota Council of Health Plans: or 651-645-0099; Health Care For All Minnesota: or 651-560-0750; Minnesota COACT:, 651-646-0900; Growth and Justice, or 651-917-6037.