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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 3, 2008

UI to convene health policy leaders in Des Moines Dec. 4

As Iowa lawmakers prepare to confront the challenges of implementing comprehensive health care reform plans, the University of Iowa is leading an effort to convene health policy leaders from across Iowa and the United States to examine current policy issues, better understand emerging fiscal constraints, and identify potential reform priorities leading into the next legislative session.

The Iowa health policy leaders -- representing business and industry, consumers, health care institutions, insurance, labor, education, and local and state elected officials -- will gather in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 4, for the third "Rebalancing Health Care in the Heartland" conference, sponsored by the UI health sciences colleges, UI Hospitals and Clinics, the Partnership for Better Health, and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

"Nationally, the state of Iowa is recognized as a leader in its efforts to expand health care coverage and improve health status for all its residents," said Jean Robillard, M.D., UI vice president for medical affairs. "This conference provides a unique opportunity to examine the initial steps Iowa has already taken to attain its goals and to discuss new strategies that will position the state to succeed with this ambitious reform agenda."

The state's health care reforms, including plans to provide health insurance coverage to virtually all Iowa children by 2011, are part of far-reaching legislation passed in the 2008 session of the Iowa General Assembly and signed into law by Iowa Gov. Chet Culver in May.

"The appeal and challenge in Iowa's approach to health reform is its inclusiveness," according to conference co-chair Chris Atchison, associate dean for public health practice in the UI College of Public Health and director of the University Hygienic Laboratory. "The state is working to both expand coverage and to design a system which will facilitate the connection of people to the services they need to achieve better health outcomes."

The Iowa legislation includes a host of other major reforms, including developing a plan to provide health care coverage for all Iowans by 2013; expanding use of electronic medical records; improving prevention and chronic disease management; eliminating pre-existing condition restrictions when moving from group to individual health insurance; allowing individuals up to age 25 to remain on their parents insurance; and creating incentives for local communities to promote healthy lifestyles.

The conference, to be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Des Moines, will include presentations from several groups that are spearheading the state's health care reform process, including the Iowa Choice Health Care Coverage Advisory Council, as well as panels on electronic health information and Medicaid quality improvement; medical home, prevention and chronic care; and direct care workforce.

Scheduled speakers include:

--Sen. Tom Harkin, who was named recently to lead a U.S. Senate working group tasked with crafting the prevention and public health components of a federal health care reform bill.

--Iowa legislative leaders, including state Sens. Joe Bolkcom, Robert Dvorsky, and David Johnson.

--Ed Schor, vice president of the Commonwealth Fund and formerly medical director for the family and community health division of the Iowa Dept of Public Health.

--Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition.

Additional conference details and full program information are available online at

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: Reporters are invited to cover the entire forum or specific sessions. Pre-registration is not required, but reporters should bring appropriate identification for admittance.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACTS: Dan McMillan, 319-335-6835,; David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, ,