Jessamy Taylor, MPP & Michele J. Orza, ScD
Behind the national health reform law lies a vision for greater investment in prevention and primary care and a reorientation of our health care system from hospital-based acute care to include more community-based primary care as a means to improve health and "bend the cost curve." New Orleans has been a case study in working to achieve such a vision for its health care system since Hurricane Katrina and levy breaches devastated large swaths of the city in August 2005. Great strides have been made in shifting a once public hospital–centric model of caring for the uninsured and low-income to a community-based network of public and private clinics. This discussion focused on insights from the New Orleans experience in transforming primary care practice for the underserved and reorienting the safety net delivery system. The session emphasized lessons related to delivery system redesign and primary care capacity building that might be generalized to other communities by state and federal policymakers interested in ways to meet the increased demand for services that health reform's insurance coverage expansions will bring.
Diane Rittenhouse, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Institute for Health Policy Studies, Center for Excellence in Primary Care, University of California, San Francisco; Karen DeSalvo, MD, Executive Director, Tulane University Community Health Centers, Professor of Medicine and Vice Dean for Community Affairs and Health Policy, Tulane University School of Medicine; Joia Crear-Perry, MD, Director of Clinical Services, New Orleans Health Department; Anthony "Tony" Keck, Deputy Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
For more information on the Forum's site visit to New Orleans, held in May 2009, see the report.