Health task force to meet here

The leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee will hear to­day from lo­cal, state and na­tional ex­perts on ways to re­form pri­mary and men­tal health care.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Wag­ner Staff Writer DWag­ner@RN-T.com

The Geor­gia Health Care Re­form Task Force will hold its fi­nal meet­ing to­day at Berry Col­lege, with a main fo­cus on pri­mary and pre­ven­ta­tive care.

“The other ar­eas of fo­cus are on men­tal health and in­te­grat­ing men­tal health care in with pri­mary care,” said Sen. Chuck Huf­stetler.

Huf­stetler is one of the seven state se­na­tors ap­pointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Ca­gle to come up with a sus­tain­able model for the state’s sys­tem in light of changes at the fed­eral level. They’ve been meet­ing around the state since this sum­mer and a fi­nal re­port is ex­pected be­fore the end of the year.

Huf­stetler said the re­port would in­clude rec­om­mended leg­is­la­tion for the Geor­gia Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion that starts in Jan­uary.

“We be­lieve that the big­gest sav­ings and the most im­prove­ment in health will be fo­cus­ing on pre­ven­ta­tive health care — in­stead of treat­ing symp­toms and dis­ease af­ter the fact — and we’ll be hear­ing about in­no­va­tive ways to do that,” Huf­stetler said.

The ses­sion starts at 10 a.m. in the Spruill Ball­room of the Kran­nert Cen­ter Sen. Chuck Huf­stetler at the col­lege off Martha Berry High­way. It’s slated to last into the af­ter­noon and is open to the pub­lic.

Ca­gle will be on hand to give in­tro­duc­tory re­marks fol­low­ing an in­vo­ca­tion by Huf­stetler and a wel­com­ing ad­dress by Berry Pres­i­dent Stephen Briggs.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Floyd Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Red­mond Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter and Harbin Clinic top the agenda with an in-depth look at the sit­u­a­tion in Rome.

Pre­sen­ta­tions also are sched­uled from a wide range of or­ga­ni­za­tions re­gard­ing the level of care needed to im­prove the over­all health of Ge­or­gians, the chal­lenges faced by physi­cians and nurses, and work­force de­vel­op­ment.

“With the chair­man of

the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (Dr. Ger­ald Har­mon) be­ing a pri­mary care physi­cian this year, we are ex­cited to have him here as well as the many other state and na­tional ex­perts,” Huf­stetler said.

Among the oth­ers on

the lengthy list of speak­ers are Tom An­drews, pres­i­dent of Mercy Care; Lucy Mar­ion, dean of Au­gusta Univer­sity Col­lege of Nurs­ing; Monty Veazey, pres­i­dent of the Geor­gia Al­liance of Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tals; and Dr. Scott Bohlke, pres­i­dent of the Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of Geor­gia.

Huf­stetler said the leg­isla­tive task force also hopes to hear of vi­able

ways to ad­dress opi­oid abuse and ad­dic­tion with mon­i­tor­ing and treat­ment. Fund­ing, he said, is key. “We’ll also be propos­ing waivers with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to help bring bet­ter men­tal health, drug treat­ment and pre­ven­ta­tive care treat­ment to the unin­sured and un­der-in­sured pop­u­la­tion of Geor­gia,” Huf­stetler said.

Tom An­drews

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