Extraordinary Stories

Weighing in on Health Care Reform

Christopher Atchison

It has been a tumultuous year in Washington, as congressional leaders worked to develop the national health care bill. In Iowa, experts were well-positioned to model health care policies that have been implemented at the state level. In recent years, the UI College of Public Health helped organize several public forums aimed at stimulating local discussions about health care reform.

"The function of any academic institution, but particularly a College of Public Health, is to act as a convener by bringing people with diverse perspectives together to share ideas, which can lead to better solutions," said Christopher Atchison, associate dean for public health practice and professor of health management and policy. "Collaborations are essential for having effective, positive, and lasting public policy."

Through a partnership with the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to lessening federal budget deficits, collegiate leaders assembled the Iowa Committee for Value in Healthcare and held public forums in Des Moines in 2009. The Concord Coalition chose Iowa as the optimal site for its health care discussions because of the state's ambitious health care reform efforts.

"Iowa demonstrates good quality health care at a low cost and should be a model for health reform at the national level," Atchison said. "Through these forums, we are trying to assure that reform discussions will not only be about cost but, more importantly, value in the service and outcomes."