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Morgan health-care forum Jan. 5

December 26, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- One way to try to fix this country's health-care system is to ask the public for ideas and solutions, and this community will have a chance to contribute.

A Community Health Care Forum is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Springs High School to discuss solutions for health-care reform in the United States.

The health care forum was organized by Morgan County residents Kate Evans and Dr. Matthew Hahn.

The forum is in response to President-elect Barack Obama's early December request for Americans to hold town meetings across the country to provide ideas for how to fix the health-care system, Evans said in her press release.

"Having the next president issue such a call for help to the American people is monumental. I felt we needed to respond. The health-care crisis is crippling this country. People aren't getting the medical care they need," she said.

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Evans got in touch with community leaders and learned there was an interest in a community health-care forum. Hahn agreed to moderate the forum, she said.

She and Hahn worked together to plan the event and they used some of the ideas from the Obama-Biden transition team's Web site.

Hahn will present a brief overview of health-care system issues. Residents will have an opportunity to share stories about their problems with the system and offer suggestions for ways to resolve them.

Small work groups will discuss how access to health care can be improved, how health care costs can be reduced, ways to improve the quality of care, and who and what types of services should be covered.

The groups will report their recommendations to Hahn and he will summarize their findings. Ideas and recommendations will be passed along to the Obama-Biden transition team.

The forum is registered with the Obama-Biden transition team, and they will be looking for the results, Evans said.

Hahn has been interested in health care reform for some time. He is a physician at the Winchester Family Health Center in Winchester, Va., and sees patients every day that are not getting necessary care and preventative care because they can't afford it.

He started a blog called No Compromise Health Care and has been posting stories about the problems he encounters and encourages others to share their stories.

"The bottom line is that our health-care delivery system is broken, and many Americans -- real people, are suffering and dying as a result. We have to fix the system," Hahn said.

"We have to recognize that this broken health care system suffers from three problems - lack of access to care, unsupportable costs and poor quality. If we don't address all three areas together, we will fail," he said.

Evans said, "I am amazed by the number of people who have responded to me about this forum. This is more than critical. It is a crisis across America."

"We are committed to having an open, respectful and useful conversation, and everyone is welcome," Hahn said, even if you live outside of Berkeley Springs.

An inclement weather date has been set for Monday, Jan. 12.

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