Two faculty members in The University of Southern Mississippi's
College of Health recently participated in a national dialogue between
community members and national health care leaders about the values
and principles that should guide U.S. health care policy in the
future. The findings of the year-long project, presented Sept. 23
at a summit in Washington D.C., revealed deep concern about the
current direction of the U.S. health care system and a genuine desire
for constructive change, according to a report released by the Wye
River Group on Healthcare.
resulted from a unique process wherein input was obtained from people
who are knowledgeable about the healthcare system and that represented
all sectors and interests around the country," said Dr. Joan
Exline, interim dean for the College of Health, who along with Dr.
Agnes Hinton, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Health,
participated in roundtable discussions in Jackson and nine other
cities across the country.
community members, nurses, doctors, administrators, Medicaid directors,
insurers, business owners, and academicians, etc, sitting around
the table at one time talking candidly about the problems we face."
were held from July 2002 to May 2003 and focused on the shared values
and principles that should provide the foundation for health care
policy in this country. After each discussion, the information was
distilled into a community profile highlighting the shared values
and principles articulated in each community.
of the report, "Communities Shaping a Vision for America's
21st Century Health and Healthcare," were showcased last month
in the nation's capital at a summit intended to help launch a national
dialogue on health care among the American public, policy makers
and health care stakeholders.
demonstrates the great promise in the ability of our health care
leaders, both at the local and national level, to look logically
and rationally at how we might best meet the needs of our citizens
and for that matter, our physicians and health care providers,"
said American Healthcare Association President Dick Davidson, who
attended the Washington D.C. summit. AHA is a sponsor of the project,
which plans to work with national and community leaders to develop
and execute a campaign to engage the public in constructive dialogue
on health care challenges.
to their meeting with the groups in Jackson, Dr. Hinton and Dr.
Exline were allowed access to all nine of the other discussion groups.
In these frank and candid dialogues, all manner of topics were examined,
including equity, access to medication and the government's role
in health care.
problems with some bills and some health care costs the industry
might address," Hinton said.
A big issue,
Hinton said, was the need for easier access to medical coverage
for all Americans.
about the social contract and whether or not we felt the U.S. has
a social contract for health. I think for emergency care we do,
but not for everybody. That's really something that I sense as a
group we agreed on, that everyone should have a basic level of care
that's comprehensive. But I didn't feel like the nation as a whole
felt that way," she said.
many community leaders who participated in the project, most Americans
view health care with a sense of entitlement.
interesting that common themes emerged from the ten study sites
around the country," Exline said. "So, it is possible
to come up with some points of consensus to improve access to the
healthcare system. This is particularly important because health
reform is likely to be a topic of discussion in the upcoming presidential
In the report,
available online at http://www.wrgh.org., the Center for Sustainable
Health Outreach at Southern Miss was highlighted, offering an example
of what the commission considered an "exemplary project"
it had discovered as it made its way across the country holding