Health Policy Summit Looks to Missouri Health Future

8 years 10 months 2 weeks ago Saturday, October 30 2010 Oct 30, 2010 Saturday, October 30, 2010 11:01:45 AM CDT October 30, 2010 in News

COLUMBIA - Health care professionals joined forces Friday to discuss Missouri's health care future and break down the complexities for residents to understand. Health literacy and what people need to know was a major issue discussed, as well as implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Speakers included a health care economist, specialist in health care journalism, and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Uwe Reinhardt, Gary Schwitzer and Louis W. Sullivan were the keynote speakers.

More than 200 people attended the 8th Annual Missouri Health Policy Summit at the Garden Conference Center at Hilton Garden Inn.

Federal health care reform became law in March 2010.  But what does it mean for the 400,000 Missourians who will be affected?

The summit discussed methods to synthesize the complex information.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Missouri became law on March 23, 2010, and was said to expand health coverage, provide better interaction between providers and patients, increase preventative care and community health funding, and focus on better management of chronic disease.

The summit addressed the desire to engage young people in the health care process, to better educate their peers and older generations.

"This is a generational change and young people need to advocate. Not only for themselves to better understand, but for parents and even grandparents," Health Literacy Missouri President and CEO Arthur Culbert said.

"People are mystified, they come with bags full of prescriptions, they have multiple things that they're taking and they need to do this in a way that they don't feel slighted and they don't feel dumb. They need to feel empowered to ask questions," Culbert explained.

Culbert emphasized there are three main questions that people can't be afraid to ask their doctors: What's the biggest problem? What should I do about it? Why is it important?

Physician Jim Stevermer has seen the wide spectrum of health care knowledge first hand. As the Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at MU, he explained, "I have some patients who are well versed and know as much as many specialists about their disease and conditions. Other patients know relatively little, not sure exactly why they're taking particular medications, and if they're not sure why they're taking the medicine, they may not necessarily reliably take it if they're not sure what the benefit to them is."

"Much like the nation, we don't want to be told what to do. Again, that's where health literacy is such an important factor because if we're able to provide information that the citizens of Missouri can understand, people can make their own decisions. I think people here should have a choice and in order to have that choice, we need to understand that information," Culbert said.

For a complete breakdown of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, visit the link to this page. The plan outlines seven primary action goals.

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