UW News

September 9, 2009

UW medical, public health experts and students provide fodder, facts for health-care reform debate

Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering

Medical and public health experts and students from the University of Washington have weighed in on a variety of health-care topics in recent months, including the primary care doctor shortage, public hospital financing, health-care co-ops and how to care for the uninsured. As federal and state lawmakers and President Obama debate how to reform the country’s medical system, we expect these conversations to continue, and the public and media to turn to the UW to learn more.

Here’s a look at what some of our experts have shared:

Johnese Spisso, VP for medical affairs at UW and clinical operations officer, UW Medicine, discussed in April 2009 public hospital financing with Reporting on Health. What does it take for a public hospital to succeed? Spisso said a priority has been to explore how to make public teaching hospitals viable for the future.

Spisso was also interviewed in July 2009 by National Public Radio, which reported on the new face of the uninsured.

Why is there a shortage of primary care doctors and what incentives need to be considered so that more students will pursue primary care? Dr. Roger Rosenblatt, vice chairman of the Dept. of Family Medicine, and medical students Meghan O’Connell and Brian Rezvani appeared on NBC Nightly News in July 2009 to discuss these topics with Chief Science Correspondent Robert Bazell.

Rosenblatt was also interviewed in September 2009 by The New York Times. Reporter Kevin Sack visited Seattle and interviewed numerous UW medical students who took part in the Rural/ Underserved Opportunities Program in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Student Kylie Boggess decided to commit to primary care after working in Idaho and making a real connection with patients.

Meg Mullin, a first-year resident at Harborview Medical Center, also shared her thoughts on primary care in August 2009 with The Seattle Times. “I wanted to find a program that would allow me to take care of people in vulnerable populations,” Mullin said.

Professor Larry Kessler, chairman of the Dept. of Health Services and former director at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, shared his health care reform expertise in September 2009 with 97.3 FM KIRO radio. Kessler also discussed President Obama’s health care speech to Congress with 94.9 FM KUOW. 

As for those health-care co-ops, Professor Carolyn “Cindy” Watts discussed her thoughts on the structure of a cooperative—and what role incentives play—in July 2009 with The New York Times. Watts was interviewed in July 2009 by Q13 Fox News, which covered Washington’s Group Health Cooperative as it took center stage in the health-care debate. She also told The Seattle Times’ Lance Dickie in August 2009 that she predicted no immediate major changes in reform.

Aaron Katz, principal lecturer of Health Services and Global Health, has also widely discussed co-ops, sharing his insight in September 2009 with PBS/ The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and The Salt Lake Tribune. In August 2009, Katz told CNN that the co-op model could indeed be viable nationally, with a few caveats. And he shared the basics of the model in July 2009 with Fox Business News viewers.

Katz also provided a primer or health-care explainer for KUOW listeners in August 2009, and he is blogging about health care at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

UWNews.org has additional sources for reporters working on health policy stories.