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Articles / 2013

Health reform as a team sport

Ventura County Star
By Jim Hornstein, M.D.

On a recent drive home, I came across a bumper sticker that I thought was hilarious. It read: "An Alternative U.S. Health Care Plan— Don't Get Sick."

Aside from the obvious sarcasm, it's actually kind of true.

If you really want to avoid the current messy and confusing national conversation about health reform, then either hope you never get sick or pray you're rich enough to pay your own way.

Otherwise, roll up your sleeves because it's seriously time for the rest of us to get involved. And who are the rest of us? It is you and me and our families. And it is also the 1 billion yearly American visits to physicians and the 100 million patient days spent per year in acute care hospitals.

And what should we expect when we interact with the health care system? We should expect to get the right care at the right time at an affordable price.

And that's what health reform is actually all about: access to the care we need, delivered compassionately and expertly and at a price that does not cripple the very people we are hoping to help.

Access, quality and cost: the triple aimwe all desire in a more rational and functional health care system.

Two weeks ago, the Community Memorial Health System held the first of two sessions which made the case for current reform efforts and explained the basic elements of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare). This Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.,wewill be holding our second session at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main St., Ventura.

There is no admission charge for the session, but reservation are required and can be made by calling 800-769-0745.

Our focus will be both practical and personal: What's a health insurance exchange? How do you enter it? What's a mandate? What are essential health benefits? What are the four basic insurance plans? Will I get a subsidy? What should I do if I am 29 or 59, employed or unemployed, financially well off or less so, already on a health-care plan orMedicare or Medi-Cal?

Our expert panel includes a UCLA health policy professor and the president and CEO of our own regional health care system. But most importantly, these seminars include you, our Ventura regional community, bringing your interest, your questions and your serious involvement.

Ultimately, your involvement is critical.

As I see it, health reform is much too important to leave exclusively to politicians. Health reform is, in fact, a team sport — and the team I am referring to is not the Democratic or Republican team — but the American team.

What's more, this team is quite large since it includes everyone — you, your family, your friends and your neighbors. And, on this team, everyone plays. Unless, of course, you think you can sit on the sidelines and hope you will never get sick (if only that were possible).

Otherwise, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., wear comfortable shoes because it's time to play ball! Jim Hornstein, M.D., of Ventura, is chairman of the bioethics committees at Community Memorial Hospital and Ventura County Medical Center.