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Examining Health Care: What’s the Public’s Prescription? (NIF Issue Guide)

One of the National Issues Forums Institute’s issue guides, Examining Health Care: What’s the Public’s Prescription? outlines this public issue and several choices or approaches to addressing the issue. National Issues Forums do not advocate a specific solution or point of view, but provide citizens the opportunity to consider a broad range of choices, weigh the pros and cons of those options, and meet with each other in a public dialogue to identify the concerns they hold in common.

The U.S. spends more than any other country in the world on health care — $1.3 trillion in 2000, or $4,637 on every man, woman, and child. Yet serious problems with access, cost, and quality persist, depriving many people of the care they need and jeopardizing the health of our nation.

From doctors to insurance executives, from patients to officeholders, an overwhelming number of Americans say we desperately need to reform health care in this country. But what is the best prescription for breaking down the barriers preventing so many people from receiving appropriate medical care?

At the heart of people’s concerns about health care are important questions about what we value as Americans and what we are and are not willing to do to improve health care. Although they are not mutually exclusive, the following approaches reflect different perspectives and priorities that people bring to this critical issue.

Approach 1: Connected Parts, Not Fragmented Pieces
The most effective way to improve health care in America is to take firm hold of it and make it run like a true, well-coordinated system. We need to take the existing, unwieldy collection of health care fragments and fashion them into a connected web of health care services, where information flows readily between the pieces and they work in concert.

Approach 2: Partners, Not Just Patients
We need to create new relationships in health care where consumers and professionals work hand-in-hand, with patients becoming partners in their health care. We need to take time to communicate, to help people make informed decisions, and to educate for healthy lifestyles.

Approach 3: Care for All, Not Just for Some
We need to set new priorities in health care aimed at providing Americans the care they need when they need it. We need to seal up the cracks in the system so that people don’t fall through. We need an unflagging commitment to providing the medical treatment that each person needs.

Read the report on this forum.

More about NIF issue guides…

NIFI’s issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, issue guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

NIFI offers various materials for each of the issues it produces issue guides on. The moderator guide or “guide to the forums” for each issue is available as a free download. Discussion guides (or “issue guides”) for participants are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). DVD’s can also be purchased for some issues for just $6, for use at the beginning of your forums to introduce the topic and approaches.

All NIF issue guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/issue_books/.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/issue_books/detail.aspx?catID=12&itemID=11328

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