Governor Welcomes National Leaders to Vermont Blueprint for Health Conference

For Immediate Release: March 22, 2004

Contact:  Linda Dorey

BURLINGTON - Governor Jim Douglas joins Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, and UVM Dean of Medicine John Evans in welcoming two national figures who are working to revolutionize health care.

Governor Douglas’ opening remarks will detail his comprehensive health care reform package: A Prescription for a Healthy Vermont.

Drs. Donald Berwick and Edward Wagner will address over 400 health care providers, consumers and policymakers at the Sheraton in Burlington on Monday March 22.

“As we began talking about ways to improve the health of the over 200,000 Vermonters who have lifelong chronic illnesses, two names came up again and again: Don Berwick and Ed Wagner,” said Dr. Paul Jarris, Vermont health commissioner.

Berwick, MD, MPP, a professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, has become known as a revolutionary for his belief that the U.S. health care system is in need of a complete overhaul. He will talk about his views on the current system, and why we need to “blow it up.”

Wagner, MD, MPH, has developed a new model of health care that focuses on the consumer’s needs and how the health care system can best be designed to meet those needs. His goal in turning the current system upside down - healthier and more informed consumers; health care providers who work more efficiently and effectively, and with more satisfaction; and lower health care costs.

“This is a great opportunity for Vermont. Berwick and Wagner are two of the top thinkers in health care. Their expertise and experience will help us drive our health care system to meet the needs of the future,” Jarris said.

In Vermont, chronic (or lifelong) conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease, are the leading cause of illness, disability and death. Fifty-one percent of Vermonters age 18-plus, and 82 percent of those over age 65 have at least one chronic illness.

Today, most health care goes to people with chronic conditions: 78 percent of health care spending is for people with chronic conditions, 76 percent of hospital admissions are people with chronic conditions, and 72 percent of all physician visits are by people with chronic conditions.

At the same time, many chronic diseases can be prevented, or complications reduced, through healthy lifestyle and preventive care—backed up by a health care system better designed to meet consumer needs.

Speakers will be available at a press conference at 12:35.

Agenda for Monday, March 22 at Sheraton Conference Center in Burlington: