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Nov 17, 2003
by Staff Writers
Answering the Challenge
Groups start contests to help fix Healthcare systemJust about everyone believes the U.S. healthcare system is broken. But what should be done about it? Presidential aspirants have unveiled blueprints for a massive overhaul. States are trying some smaller-scale remedies. Are there any other ideas on how to finally get this thing fixed?
Judging by more than 100 entries to a contest seeking innovative solutions to what ails healthcare in the U.S., the answer is a resounding yes.
The winner, however, may have surprised many: A Canadian dentist from Arnprior, Ontario, won the first prize of $10,000 for his patient-empowerment proposal. R. Vaughan Glover says he entered the contest to be a catalyst for change and because of frustration with both the American and Canadian systems-contending they're based on principles of insurance, not true principles of health.
''All the stakeholders in healthcare have changed,'' Glover says, adding that it's time to move away from a disease-based healthcare system to a health system focused on the patient. ''Remember, there's nothing that a doctor, support group or insurance plan can do that will overcome what a patient will not do.''
The contest was the result of a challenge made by Seattle healthcare consultant Kathleen O'Connor in conjunction with a book she penned last year, The Buck Stops Nowhere-Why America's Healthcare System is All Dollars and No Sense. The not-for-profit group she founded, Code Blue Now, will spend the next year promoting the contest's collective ideas, educating the public and lobbying lawmakers in Washington.
He vill be back to you
A contest more likely to have an immediate effect is one in California, where people are being given the chance to give the Terminator their solutions to rising healthcare costs.
The not-for-profit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Santa Monica, Calif., has launched a statewide contest seeking the best new ideas on how to remove ''profiteering, waste and bloated administrative costs'' from the healthcare system without cutting existing programs or limiting access to care.
There's no cash prize, but the 100 top entries will be presented to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. And the entrant with the single best idea will be flown to sunny Sacramento sometime in mid-January for a news conference and a day of meetings with state policymakers.
''It's critical that policymakers think creatively about ways to make our healthcare system as efficient and affordable as possible,'' said foundation consumer advocate Jerry Flanagan. ''We're recruiting all Californians to help them out.''
Contest entries should be sent by Dec. 19 to Jerry@consumerwatchdog.org with the words ''contest entry'' in the subject line. Include name, phone number and city of residence.
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