Forum stresses importance of health care policy
HUNTINGTON -- The third annual Paul W. Ambrose Health Policy Forum explored how the medical community and policy makers can use the Affordable Care Act to improve primary care.
Christopher Koller, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, presented "The Affordable Care Act and the Future of Primary Care" at Marshall University Medical Center's Harless Auditorium on Wednesday as part of the forum.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that works to improve health by connecting leaders and decision makers with the best available evidence and experience. Founded in 1905, the fund engages in nonpartisan analysis, collaboration, and communication on significant issues in health policy.
Koller spoke for about 30 minutes on how the Affordable Care Act can advance primary care and then answered from the audience.
"Think of the Affordable Care Act as a toolbox," he said during his presentation. "It doesn't create, but it provides resources for local leadership, particularly around advancing high-quality primary care."
About 40 people attended the talk. It was sponsored by the Department of Family and Community Health, the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health and the Paul W. Ambrose Fellows.
It is named for Dr. Paul W. Ambrose, a family physician and Cabell County native who was rapidly climbing to the top of the nation's public health field when he was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists' attacks.
Jennifer T. Plymale, co-chair of the Paul W. Ambrose Health Policy Fellows, said they try to invite a respected voice in the medical community to speak at the forum each year.
"Our hope is that exceptional resident physicians will benefit from engaging state and federal representatives and other health care experts in thoughtful discussions of policy formation and develop innovative skills to serve their community as more effective providers, healthcare advocates and community leaders," she said.
Kimberly Becher, one of the fellows, serves as the only medical resident on the board of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She has testified in front of senate committees in Charleston and traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak about telehealth. She said all physicians should be informed of policy affecting their field.
"To give our patients the best care possible, we have to really understand our health care society and our health care systems," she said. "The more you know about the systems and our public health issues, the more you're going to help your patients. I feel like it's part of patient care, and if people don't see it that way they should be exposed to the fact that it should be."
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