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Health Roundtable Prescribes Preventive Care

One answer to increasing health care costs is preventive behavior, according to the 2008 Rocky Mountain Roundtable on Health, Wellness and Prevention held at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Monday morning.

Moderated by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), 16 participants from various health care companies and some state and local government groups conducted a roundtable discussion focusing on the benefits, including the financial advantages, of preventive health care.

The roundtable is one of 10 issue-oriented, nonpartisan panel discussions to be held through Wednesday, at the same time as the Democratic National Convention to nominate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as the party’s presidential nominee.

In 2007, $2.1 trillion was spent on health care costs, according to Trace Devanny, President of Cerner Corp. That number, according to many of the panelists, could be decreased by people taking a more active approach to their health.

“Health care systems, as we know them, really only contribute to 10 percent of overall health. We need to look at social determinants and behavior. Forty percent of illness is related to behavior,” said Patty Gabow, CEO of Denver Health.

Gabow and other participants proposed solutions to having more people be proactive when it comes to their well-being.

“We need to create an environment in which doing the healthy thing is easy,” said Michael Critelli, executive chairman of Pitney Bowes.

Proposed solutions included increasing health education programs within schools, revamping community streets for easier walking and biking access, as well as improving medical technology and research and health incentives within the workplace.

Bruce Bodaken, of Blue Shield of California, outlined a healthy initiatives program in which those who enroll in education, diet or smoking-cessation programs receive healthy lifestyle awards and, in some instances, a “health day” off of work.

Universal health care was also addressed. Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, mentioned the city’s health care plan, making it the first in the nation to offer low-cost health care to its uninsured residents. A few other panelists also commented on the need for universal health care as a future option.

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