The Obama Transition Team reached out and Washington Grantmakers responded

By Carolynn Mambu, Vice President, Washington Grantmakers

In its quest to receive community input on health care reform, the Obama-Biden Transition Team encouraged groups across the country to hold Health Care Community Discussions.  Members of the WG’s Health Working Group responded using its December meeting to discuss health care issues facing the area’s uninsured and underserved and developed their own set of recommendations.

“The health care system that this nation develops should regulate health in the public interest, said Patricia Mathews, Chair of the Health Working Group and a WG board member.  “Not having a comprehensive system creates significant gaps in who receives care and what care they receive.”

The group focused on the fact that the medical system is limited, in that its mission is primarily to provide treatment to those already ill.  Policymakers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to make health a critical part of community planning and development by reaching across sectors to ensure that schools and workplaces promote healthy lifestyles.  The group also concurred that using place-based initiatives, such as Wellness Opportunity Zones, could bring to bear multiple design and development strategies to solve the problems of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma.

Specific recommendations included:

  • Develop comprehensive and integrated systems for primary care, including oral health, behavioral health, preventative services, health education, and affordable prescription drugs;
  • Reduce the overall costs of health care by focusing on a “wellness” model, emphasizing strategies to avoid illness as well as chronic disease management; and
  • Link health reform to workforce development and job creation with a focus on low and moderate income individuals and communities of color.

Read the full report here (pdf).