The fourth White House Regional Forum on Health Reform is in Greensboro, North Carolina, hosted by Governor Beverly Perdue and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the WH Office of Health Reform. Rebecca Adelman of the Department of Health and Human Services gives us the play-by-play below, but you can also watch it streamed live at HealthReform.gov.
[UPDATE: The event is now over]
12:10: Governor Perdue closes the event by thanking Nancy-Ann DeParle and President Obama for choosing North Carolina as one of five states to hold a regional forum on health reform. She said North Carolinians will continue to think of innovative solutions to bring down health care costs, and she stresses that her state is ready to help as the President works to enact health care reform this year.
12:07: Nancy-Ann DeParle closes the discussion in Greensboro by saying that the forum struck her as exemplifying the best and the worst of the health care system. North Carolina has leading medical professionals who represent the best of America’s talented doctors and nurses, but many North Carolinians cannot afford the health insurance that would allow them to benefit from that local talent.
11:58: A number of doctors have spoken in North Carolina, including Dr. David Talbot who said one significant problem is the fragmentation of health care. He suggests that any primary care network should include dental care, mental health care, and also needs to have the means to assess people based on their risk. He adds that as we talk about extending health care services to everyone, we need to think about how to move away from "hamster health care" where we are running in a wheel.
11:41: Dr. Bill Roper from the University of North Carolina up now speaking about the urgent need for health reform – he said if we don’t make long overdue changes to the health care system, it will go from being "the most expensive system in the world to the most expensive system in the galaxy."
11:33: After a number of North Carolinians tell heart-wrenching stories about their inability to afford adequate health care for their families, Governor Perdue says, "We don’t want to overwhelm Nancy-Ann, but this is life in North Carolina."
11:27: Rising costs are a huge topic of discussion in Greensboro - Frank Amend, a college educated professional tells the forum participants that he pays more for his treatment than for his mortgage. Several other participants chime in after Mr. Amend, including two mothers who have children with disabilities and are struggling to pay for the long-term care their children need.
11:12: Collete Davis, a bankruptcy attorney who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, was one of the over 30,000 Americans who held a community discussion in her neighborhood. She's speaking emotionally about her struggle to find health insurance after she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She says despite being in a good financial position as an attorney, it was a huge challenge to pay for her treatment. She was especially struck by how many Americans must be struggling, if she was.
11:02: Nancy-Ann DeParle thanks Governor Perdue for her "can do" leadership, and for hosting this forum. DeParle said rising health care costs are forcing families across America to make impossible choices, and that is why President Obama believes we have to come to a solution this year that will ease the stress that businesses and families are under. She noted the first important step in this effort is for Congress to pass the President’s budget that provides a reserve fund for a health care plan.
10:51: Governor Perdue thanks the attendees for taking time out of their busy schedules to engage in this pressing issue. She thanks Nancy-Ann DeParle for traveling to North Carolina, and says she feels encouraged that President Obama and his administration are devoting their energies to making sensible reforms to our health care system that will bring down the costs crippling families and businesses.
10:42: The Greensboro forum kicks off with a message from President Obama, who says, "health reform cannot wait another year." He urges the group to use this forum to ask questions and make suggestions, since they know first-hand what works about America’s health care system, and what doesn’t.
10:35: The fourth White House regional forum is about to begin in Greensboro, NC, hosted by North Carolina A&T State University. Governor Bev Perdue will be moderating the forum, along with the Director of the White House office for Health Reform, Nancy-Ann DeParle. These forums, which have taken place already in Michigan, Vermont, and Iowa, are a crucial part of the President’s effort to seek input from Americans across the ideological spectrum and understand how health care problems affect different parts of the country as he works with Congress to enact health care reform this year.