South Florida Hospital News
Monday May 25, 2020

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November 2008 - Volume 5 - Issue 5



UHealth and the Miller School Host American Hospital Association Health Care Reform Forum

The Miami edition of the "Health for Life" community forum, an American Hospital Association event that brings health care and public policy experts and advocates together to discuss needed reforms, recently opened at the Miller School’s Medical Wellness Center with a presentation of statistics depicting the current lack of health care coverage many Floridians face, a dark snapshot of the national landscape where, for many, health care is unaffordable and the system is in crisis.

In Florida, more than 3.7 million people, including more than 541,000 children, make the state the third highest in the country in both the number and percentage of uninsured. In Miami-Dade County alone, 29 percent of residents don’t have health insurance.

The forum, sponsored by the American Hospital Association, UHealth and other health care organizations, featured University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton, and several nationally known speakers in the health care environment. Through "Health for Life," they sought to find answers and suggestions that will bring relief to the uninsured and generally fix what most regard as a broken system.

Before he introduced Shalala, Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School, and CEO of UHealth, told the gathering he was proud UHealth was once again backing such "a formidable effort that will have a substantial impact on the quality of health care for Floridians and for the country."

"Never before has the need for getting organized and for partnerships between multiple groups that deliver health care in our country been greater," Goldschmidt said to the panel and about 120 people in attendance.

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala makes opening remarks.

Shalala spoke about her successes and obstacles working for comprehensive health care reform at the highest level of government. In making several key points about what would be required for a successful overhaul of health care in the United States, she said consensus would be needed, pointing out that big societal undertakings required consensus on the problem and the solution before they got off the ground. In the Clinton Administration, she said, they mistakenly thought that because there was a consensus that there was a problem in health care, there was also a consensus on the solution.

"You have to have both. If you go back to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and all the giant leaps we have taken, there was consensus about both," she said. "The parallels between 1992 and today are clearly there in terms of the economic downturn and the desire of people needing something to happen in health care."

Shalala is often called upon to share her extensive health care and public policy expertise. Before the panelists began their discussion, Shalala reiterated a point she made in recent testimony to the Senate Finance Committee.

"Unless you have a program to get you pretty close to universal coverage it is hard to get cost control because we are cost-shifting all the time," she said. "Every hospital here is paying for the people who are uninsured and everyone who has insurance is paying for the uninsured or the underinsured. We have a lot of lousy health care coverage in this country and we ought not to be counting it as if people were seriously insured."

Some of the points made by Shalala were echoed and explored by the distinguished panel that included Pedro Jose "Joe" Greer, M.D., assistant dean of academic affairs, Florida International University College of Medicine; Marvin O’Quinn, CEO and president of Jackson Health System; Carolina Rendeiro, president and CEO of Business Centers International; Ken Hetlage, chairman of the board of South Florida Hospital & Healthcare Association; Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association; Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce; and Richard J. Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

David Lawrence Jr., chairman of the board of The Children’s Trust, moderated the discussion.

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