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OHSU Launches Health Care Reform Blog

Peter Kohler hosts online discussion on solutions to Oregon's health care access crisis Web site address:

Peter Kohler, M.D. is host to a new "blog," or Weblog, on health care reform that will support debate among diverse thinkers and leaders in Oregon and beyond. The goal of the online forum is to generate possible solutions to the health care access crisis by providing a central place to share perspectives and ideas.

"People care a great deal about health care reform but some are frustrated by the fragmented approach to discussing change," said Peter Kohler, M.D., president of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). "While blogging is new to me and to others, this method seems to offer an effective way to facilitate a regular and ongoing discussion."

At least 600,000 Oregonians now lack health insurance, hundreds of thousands of others are underinsured and the numbers keep rising. Access to health care has become a major economic challenge for many people but fundamental change has been elusive.

"I think we can all agree that everyone deserves access to basic health care. The question is: How do we come together to create a health care system to achieve this?" said Kohler. "I hope that the debate on this site will be help create momentum for change and support the dedicated individuals and groups already working hard on reform."
This online community is still growing, but already includes a nucleus group of 20 regular contributors from OHSU faculty, reform advocacy groups, government, the uninsured, health care and safety net providers, tribes and a third-party payer. Over time, this contributor group will expand. The Web site is open to the public with real-time posting for comments.
Topics will cover many facets of health care reform. So far, columns have been posted on the potential of computer technology to support health care teams of the future, a discussion of a recent Institute of Medicine report on the problems with emergency medicine, a personal essay on the challenges of being uninsured, a tally of current reform efforts, a discussion of policy changes that would help young adults afford health insurance and ideas about how to patch Oregon's frayed safety net.

"I'm participating in the blog because I see it as a way to let people know what it's really like for a contributing member of society to live without access to health care. Something has got to change but first people have to let go of the assumption that somehow it's the fault of a person without insurance," said Tess Yevka, a mental health professional. "This is a problem for our entire society."

"The blog gives people in and outside of the health care world a chance to see things from alternate perspectives. Over time, this could make it an important resource for policy-makers trying to understand problems and to develop practical solutions," said Ted Amann, R.N., director of health care and improvement for Central City Concern (CCC), a nonprofit agency serving single adults and families in Portland.

"I hope that anyone with an interest in health care reform will join this online discussion. No idea is too big or too small. The challenges with Oregon's current health care system are huge but we have to begin somewhere. Together, we can find solutions," said Kohler.

The Web site address is OHSU is facilitating the blog as a service to the Oregon community.

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