Magazine article Policy & Practice

The Opportunity of Health Care Reform

Magazine article Policy & Practice

The Opportunity of Health Care Reform

Article excerpt

Health care reform is the most significant public policy change since welfare reform of the late 90s with ramifications for a much larger segment of our society. As states and localities gear up to meet the mandates of health care reform, there are some important opportunities that may not be readily apparent, but are there if we have the courage and the patient to mine them.

Two of the opportunities that I want to focus in this piece are connectivity and cost.


A fundamental challenge across all of government is to overcome the silos of basic government program design. In the human service space, we struggle with this on a day-to-day basis trying to serve our consumers in a more comprehensive way. Categorical programs and funding streams were not designed to address the comprehensive needs of the individual/family. We on the front lines are constantly trying to piece together whole solutions through program integration initiatives, realigning agencies and co-location. Technological advances have allowed us to make important strides, but still in this decade we are challenged operationally with how to put the consumer at the center, address the entire set of presenting challenges and grow the customer beyond the need for public assistance, where possible.

Much of the current debate around the design of systems to deliver health care reform is focused on the creation of stand-alone systems that will primarily address the health insurance coverage and payments of the insurance. If we default to that focus, we would miss the tremendous opportunity to advance the work we have been doing on developing a more comprehensive approach to citizen well-being. If our ultimate objective of health care reform is a healthier citizenry, than we must use this opportunity to connect the health care and human service systems.

Health care reform allows us an opportunity to connect the health care and human service systems technologically and, as a result, connect the delivery of high-quality, affordable health care to the system that builds the economic and social capacity of low-income and socially challenged in our society.

For those who believe that connecting the two systems will bring those who only need access to the insurance payment system into the world of the public benefit system, not to worry. …

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