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California Regional Health Forum: Live-Blog

Director of Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes speaks(Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, speaks during the White House Regional Forum on Health Reform in Los Angeles, April 6, 2009.  Photo Credit Peter Grigsby)
Rebecca Adelman of the Department of Health and Human Services returns to live-blog the final Regional Forum on Health Reform, watch the live stream at

3:53: Dr. Oz closes the forum by urging all of the participants in today’s forum, including those who are watching online and participating via satellite in cities across California, to go to to continue to be part of the conversation about health care reform.
3:46: Governor Gregoire closes by saying "we cannot fail again." She explains that the health reform we enact must be comprehensive, it must be universal, and it must provide affordable care. Governor Gregoire then finishes to loud applause when she says that "this country deserves a health care system that works for its people."
3:43: Melody Barnes is making her closing remarks in Los Angeles. She says that today at the forum we heard all the reasons why we need to reform our health care system this year, and she urges the group to go back to their communities and insist to their friends, colleagues and family that health care reform happen immediately. She stresses that we may only have the next 100 days to accomplish this task, but that we can do it.
3:39: Dr. Oz concludes by asking the Governors how Americans can help in the health reform effort. Governor Schwarzenegger responds by thanking the participants for participating in the forum, and urging everyone to stay involved. He says we cannot move forward in reforming the health care system without the voices of concerned Americans.

3:30: Marian Wright Edelman is passionately addressing the forum. She says that we can do better when it comes to providing health insurance for children and eliminating health disparities. She said now is the time to end "the lottery of geography," and concludes by saying "God did not create two classes of children."

3:25: Dr. Oz calls on the forum taking place in Oakland California, led by Mayor Ron Dellums. The Mayor introduces Don Miller, a practicing nurse in Seattle, Washington. Mr. Miller observes that emergency rooms are becoming more and more crowded, and are becoming more and more expensive. 

3:15: Melody Barnes asks the forum how President Obama can reach out to everyday Americans to get their input on health reform, and she also asked members of the audience how they want to be involved in the effort. A participant named Louise answered her question directly by stressing the potential to match existing resources for future prevention and wellness programs, particularly those in schools.

3:05: The group in Los Angeles is now hearing from Supervisor Oliveira via satellite in Clovis, California. Oliveira thanks Governor Schwarzenegger for his leadership, and says he challenges all of us to band together to tackle the most important public policy issue facing us, health care reform.

2:59: Melody Barnes says that President Obama wants everyone around the table, and everything on the table as we discuss how best to reform the health system.
2:55: Governor Gregoire thanks the President for signing the Children’s Health Insurance Program in February. She says it was her goal to insure every child by 2010, and while she wasn’t sure that would be possible before, Washington state will achieve that now thanks to the CHIP bill.

2:52: Governor Schwarzenegger thanks the participants who have shared their stories, including one who shared a story about having her health policy cancelled by her insurance company. He said it is unacceptable that many in the audience and around the country have to "live in fear, even when they have a policy." He said this is something that is being raised as we talk about the need for universal health care. 

2:46: Reynaldo Hernandez addresses the forum from a satellite location in San Diego. He says the cost of purchasing health insurance "just broke us financially." Hernandez said that in the United States, he knew he had a right to an education, and if he got in trouble with the law he had the right to an attorney – so why, if he gets sick, does he not have the right to have health insurance?

2:42: A forum participant named Carole Moss just spoke emotionally about her son, who died from a preventable staph infection he got while receiving treatment in an Orange County hospital. She thanked President Obama for his dedication to health reform and transparency. She said she wished she had known that her son was at risk for such an infection.

2:37: Governor Schwarzenegger takes a minute to talk about the importance of prevention as a way to bring down health care costs. He says Americans need to eat fewer calories and emphasizes wellness as a complement any health reform effort.

2:30: Governor Schwarzenegger introduces Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is helping moderate the forum today. Dr. Oz reads a question submitted on about the stress of health care costs on businesses and families, and then leads a discussion about the skyrocketing cost of health care. One forum participant points out that a leading reason Americans file for bankruptcy is illness. President of the California Medical Association, Dr. Dev GnanaDev, suggests that any health reform plan should provide universal coverage and universal access.

2:14: Dr. Alice Chen, a doctor specializing in internal medicine and hospital medicine at UCLA, is now addressing the forum. She hosted one of the over 350 community discussions that took place in Calfornia and Washington State over the holidays this past year.  She tells a story about a man she met who lost his insurance because he couldn’t afford it, and who later died because he had difficulty getting in to see a doctor. By the time she met him in the hospital, he was too sick to walk. Dr. Chen tells the group that "it's time for us to make things right, no matter what it takes.  And what makes me hopeful is that every one of us has a voice, and we are using our voices and speaking up in unprecedented numbers."

2:10: Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes thanks the Governors for their leadership, and says she can "feel the momentum" that we have for health reform this year. She says that leaders in Washington, D.C. and in the states are talking about health reform, but so are thousands of everyday Americans who know we need health reform now. One of the 30,000 people throughout the country who held community discussions over the holidays, Dr. Alice Chen, is up to speak next.

2:00: Governor Chris Gregoire is greeting the participants in the forum, and those watching in California, in Washington state and on Governor Gregoire says that we desperately need national health reform – and that states cannot do it alone. She says she couldn’t be more delighted to work with Governor Schwarzenegger and other leaders around the country, President Obama especially, on this urgent issue.  She stresses that she agreed with President Obama that we cannot wait to reform our health system – that health reform is not only a moral imperative, but an economic imperative.

1:52: Governor Schwarzenegger thanks Dr. Ross for hosting the forum today, and then goes on to thank President Obama for putting the spotlight on the important issue of health reform. Schwarzenegger says when Americans say they are going to do something, they do it – but health reform is one glaring exception. He says it speaks to the complexity of the issue and the difficulty of bringing together stakeholders. He then turns the microphone over to Governor Chris Gregoire.

1:46: Dr. Bob Ross, President of the California Endowment which is hosting the forum today in Los Angeles, introduces Governor Schwarzenegger and thanks him for making California a healthier place. Dr. Ross also introduces, via satellite, the other gatherings in cities throughout the state of California (Oakland, San Diego, and Clovis) that are participating in the discussion.

1:38: The fifth and final Regional Forum on Health Reform is getting started in Los Angeles, California. Today’s forum will be hosted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, and Melody Barnes, who is Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. The event will feature several special guests including Marian Wright Edelman, Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Mehmet Oz.