Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Disease Prevention and the 4th Summit Conversation

Since I spent yesterday talking about health insurance, it seems fitting to switch gears to another health reform discussion: the fourth America’s Agenda Health Care Summit Conversation, happening today at 11am PST at the University of California San Francisco.

I’ve mentioned these Summit Conversations before, and I do so again because I find the idea of consensus in health care reform both utterly essential and hard to envision. Yet it isn’t as hard to achieve as we used to believe, or perhaps as past attempts at health reform would have us believe. After all, the diverse group of speakers who come together for these talks, from labor, government, health policy, pharmaceutical, and other stakeholders, prove that there already is consensus: all sides agree we need to reform health care, and now is the time. Talks like these are a way to start hashing out how exactly that reform should happen.

As a patient with multiple chronic illnesses, I’m always particularly interested in how these stakeholders approach disease prevention. Considering that 75 percent of health care spending goes to treating patients with chronic disease, switching from a system that still favors treating acute health crises over prevention and wellness—a “sick” system, rather than a “health” system, as some Summit leaders have said—is critical.

And of course, as a rare disease patient, I’d like to see this notion of prevention now to control costs and improve quality of life later include covering the appropriate treatments we need to prevent disease progression, a distinction that matters to millions of people who live with conditions that are not as heavily influenced by lifestyle and behavioral changes.

To see what some Summit speakers have to say about disease prevention, check out the video below, and browse other YouTube videos on topics covered in these talks.

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