Local doctor leads health reform work for Obama team
Major health care reform can take many years to become a reality, which is why some Yuma physicians, other medical professionals and community leaders are getting started now.
President-elect Barack Obama, who made health care reform a top priority during his election campaign, has said that an overhaul of the health care system is a basic element of his administration’s economic recovery programs.
Obama asked for input from medical experts across the country about how to improve the country's health care system, with the goal to make it affordable and accessible for every American.
Dr. Carl Myers, a medical oncologist at YRMC, had previously been in contact with the president-elect's health care transition team regarding several medical issues, including its high cost.
"I see that we can't be competitive in the world market unless we have a healthy workforce and a more effective medical system," Myers said.
Myers was contacted by Obama's health care transition team and asked to host a meeting of local health care experts here in Yuma. Myers agreed and the meeting was held on Wednesday at the Yuma Regional Medical Center Corporate Center from noon to 3 p.m., drawing about 60 people.
"There was an appreciation here for the request for input, instead of beltway solution to fix it," Myers added. The group was diverse and included medical administrators, physicians, nurses, politicians, business and education leaders and patient advocates.
"It was a really good group," Myers said. "I was really pleased with the turnout, especially when you consider the short notice."
Myers said while there was a lot of discussion and suggestions, the group focused on several key topics, such as the need for universal access to a basic level of health care and the need to develop a way to bring personal accountability into the health care system.
"We can't afford to pay to fix things that can be prevented through things such as exercising, not smoking and better nutrition," Myers said. "Those are the types of things that fuel health care costs. The U.S. spends twice as much in health care per person than any other industrialized nation. That is a problem."
Myers added that the group also spent time prioritizing the best ways to improve the health care system and strategies for barriers that would prevent any reforms.
"I have a lot of work to do collating all the suggestions given here today," Myers said.
Myers said the medical transition team plans to have follow-up meetings by March on all the information that was gathered from around the country, including the information from the Yuma meeting.
"That is sort of phase II. Phase I has been done now," Myers said.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.