Obama Spokeswoman, Dr. Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin, to Speak at the DC Health Summit on Oct. 29

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An audience of 100 health insurance, health care, and business leaders will learn more about the Obama / Biden health care plan.

Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin Ph.D. will speak at the 2008 DC Health Summit, a meeting that is bringing together 100 of the top minds in the health care industry on Oct. 29 from 11 am to 1 pm at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington, DC (http://www.dchealthsummit.com).

Dr. Buntin is a health economist and researcher who focuses on health insurance benefit design, health insurance markets, provider payment, and the care use and needs of the elderly. Her current projects include a study of the effects of consumer-directed health care on health care access, costs, and quality and a study of the effects of Medicare payment changes on post-acute care costs and outcomes.

She has also worked on projects and published in the areas of disease management, the market for individual health insurance policies, Medicare physician payment rates, the financing of end-of-life care, and Medicare managed care plan design and payment.

Dr. Buntin graduated from the Ph.D. Program in Health Policy at Harvard University where she concentrated in health economics and specialized in the economics of the Medicare program, and is currently a volunteer surrogate speaker for the Obama campaign, and says she's excited to participate in the Oct. 29 DC Health Summit.

Although a representative from the McCain campaign was also invited to attend the DC Health Summit, Amber Johnson, director of scheduling for the campaign, declined due to an overwhelming number of events surrogates need to attend at this time.

The Obama / Biden Plan

Among the many ideas that Senator Barack Obama has for health care, should he be elected President of the United States on November 4, include:

  • Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
  • Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
  • Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
  • Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
  • Make employer contributions fairer by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payrolls toward the costs of their employees' health care.
  • Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
  • Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for his or her premiums.

He also hopes to reduce Costs and Save a Typical American Family up to $2,500 as reforms phase in:

  • Lower drug costs by allowing the importation of safe medicines from other developed countries, increasing the use of generic drugs in public programs and taking on drug companies that block cheaper generic medicines from the market
  • Require hospitals to collect and report health care cost and quality data
  • Reduce the costs of catastrophic illnesses for employers and their employees.
  • Reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that

drives up prices without improving quality of care.

According to the Obama-Biden healthcare website (http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare) the plan will also promote public health by requiring coverage of preventive services, including cancer screenings, and increase state and local preparedness for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

Plus, it makes a commitment to fiscal responsibility. "Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level," his website reports.

Discussing the future of health insurance

Before Dr. Buntin speaks, the audience will hear a keynote address from Dr. Steven Aldana, a nationally recognized scientist and teacher on the topic of health promotion in the workplace, Dr. Aldana's keynote, "The Truth About Return on Investment and Worksite Health Promotion Programs," will serve as an introduction to a broader discussion among Summit panelists and attendees about the future of health insurance in the United States.

Following Dr. Buntin's remarks, the Summit's moderator / futurist Andy Hines will take questions from the audience.

He will also ask questions of an all-star health care panel including:

  • Kaiser Permanente's Director of Population Care Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips -- Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips is an internist and the physician director of Population Care at Kaiser Permanente in the Mid-Atlantic States (Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC). She has served in several positions within Kaiser Permanente, including chief of Internal Medicine, running medical offices, and since 2003, being responsible for the design and implementation of Wellness, Prevention, and Disease Management activities for the organization.
  • National Rehabilitation Hospital's VP Dr. Paul Rao -- Dr. Paul R. Rao is the vice president of Clinical Services and Quality Improvement, and Corporate Compliance at the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Washington, DC, and has been a member of the NRH Bioethics Committee since its inception. He wears a number of other hats, including being the Privacy Officer Liaison / HIPAA Coordinator, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland; and sitting on the editorial board of Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation and Advance for Directors.
  • Neurosurgeon Dr. James Melisi -- Dr. Melisi has been in private practice since 1993. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He graduated magna cum laude in biology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1981 and received his medical degree from State University of New York, Downstate College of Medicine in 1986. He completed a seven-year Neurosurgery residency at George Washington University Hospital in 1993.
  • Maryland's former Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer -- In June 2003, Al Redmer was appointed by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., to be the Maryland Insurance Commissioner where he oversaw an annual budget of $21 million. He worked to foster a balanced marketplace that allowed for vigorous consumer protection while promoting healthy competition among insurance carriers. During his tenure, he served as the Co-Chair for the Government Affairs Task Force for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), was a Board Member of the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC) and was a Board Member of the Maryland Health insurance Plan.
  • UnitedHealthcare's Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sanford Cohen -- Dr. Sanford Cohen is the Northeast regional Chief Medical Officer for United Healthcare for health plans in the Mid-Atlantic States and northeast. After spending time in private practice, serving as medical director for a medical group and director of performance improvement for a large hospital system he joined Oxford Health Plans in 1999 as Vice President in Medical Affairs and then joined United Healthcare in 2004.
  • Virginia Senator George Barker -- Prior to taking office last November, Senator George Barker worked for 30 years for the Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia where he helped contain skyrocketing health care costs, promote quality of care, and ensure access to medical care for all Northern Virginians.

Impetus for Change

Understanding more possibilities about the future of health care is fundamental to improving the system, insists Stephanie Cohen, CEO of the health benefits firm Golden & Cohen, who is hosting the Oct. 29 event.

"My goals for the Summit was to get all the players into one room at the DC Health Summit -- from futurists like Andy Hines to insurance company executives, doctors, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical companies, and politicians," says Cohen. "All these people have their own ideas, war stories, and agendas about what needs to be done to get health care insurance rates back in check -- but never before have they sat down together and talked it through. The Summit is the first step to get this important conversation going."

To attend the event, please register online http://www.dchealthsummit.com/rsvp, or call Lisa Garlena at Golden & Cohen at 301-330-5300 x230.

Direct questions and media inquiries to Hope Katz Gibbs of Inkandescent Public Relations, hope @ hopegibbs.com/ 703-346-6975.


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