At 10 o’clock this morning, the third in a series of national forums about health care reform will get underway in Des Moines. Iowa is one of five states tapped by the White House to host the events. "We need to find some solutions to decreasing these huge rate increases that Iowans simply are finding a burden," says Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss, "especially in our current economic situation."
About 11 percent of Iowans are uninsured. Most states have far greater percentages of their population living without insurance, but Iowa Department of Public Health director Tom Newton says Iowa’s "uniquely positioned" to host today’s discussion because Iowa is a rural state.
"We have some health care challenges that some of the other states that are hosting this forum probably aren’t going to experience," Newton says. "It isn’t the access to care issue through lack of insurance, it’s access to are through lack of providers and we really have some holes in our state through lack of providers that are out there."
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease plans to stage a rally at nine o’clock this morning, an hour before the forum starts, to highlight their agenda when it comes to health care reform. Jim Swanstrom is co-chair of the Iowa Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. "As we approach health care reform, I think we all understand and realize that it’s going to be a daunting task," Swanstrom says.
Swanstrom cited statistics which indicate three out of every four dollars spent in the U.S. health care system are spent on "chronic diseases" like diabetes and cancer which might have been avoided if the patient, earlier in life, had eaten a healthier diet and exercised daily.
The governors of Iowa and South Dakota will moderate today’s forum. The event will open with a video message from President Obama. Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office on Health Reform, is scheduled to be Obama’s "in person" representative at the forum.