We have been covering the Regional Health Forums closely, with HHS also streaming every one of them, but they would not have been possible without a lot of help from a lot of great people outside government. We asked David O. Washington, Associate Director and Point Person for Public Private partnerships in the Office of Public Liaison, to give us some more background:
On Monday the White House is co-hosting its fifth and final regional health reform forum in California. The last four have been in Michigan, Vermont, Iowa, and North Carolina. These are follow up gatherings to the President's Health Reform Summit at the White House on March 5th held to make sure the President got a handle on the unique health care struggles facing every part of the country .
This "White House Western Regional Health Reform Forum" is happening in Los Angeles and is being co-hosted by California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Washington’s Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire.
I've just arrived to help with the last minute preparations on the public-private partnerships front. Everyone is tremendously excited and there is a buzz in the air as stakeholders of all stripes who are passionate about the issue of healthcare are inspired by the amount of attention about to be showered on the topic on Monday.
The CA Governor's office has exhibited great vision and commitment to this forum on behalf of the host state. Their leadership has identified public-private partnerships of all sorts and brought creative and visionary thinking on how to best further the discussion on health reform while reaching out to the vast geographical diversity of the state. While the main forum is occurring with Gov Schwarzenegger, Gov Gregoire and the President's Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes, they'll be having satellite health forums going simultaneously and networked into the main site in LA from Oakland, San Diego, and Clovis. They are also embracing public-private partnerships with various website partners so not only will the health forum be streamed live on the CA HHS government site, it will also be blasted out to whole networks of other sites so as many Americans as possible have an opportunity to take part in this historic discussion. They also partnered with one the country’s leading non-profit health foundations, The California Endowment --who they've worked with in the past on important issues such as childhood obesity-- in order to expand their capacity to reach front-line organizations and access the expertise of the front-line organizations who have been advocating for health reform for many, many years.
This is my first trip back to my hometown of LA since late December 2008. To be doing so now as one of the staff in charge of public-private partnerships with the responsibility of making sure the President's health reform efforts are furthered by the inspiring efforts of all these partners involved in the WH Western Regional Health Reform Forum is something that is beyond humbling.
And as an aside, as the only child of a single Mom the fact that I'm here for work and not her isn't going to go over well. But I'll make sure we get a great dinner in and as I've done in the past I'll politely remind her who I work for and she'll cut me a little sack.