Health Care Models Bubble up in Local Communities

BY Anna Shoup  February 24, 2010 at 4:25 PM EST

On Thursday, President Barack Obama will try to jumpstart his health care reform push at a bipartisan White House health care summit. But as Congress fights over how to fix the country’s health care system, new models to provide access to care are springing up across the U.S.

In Colorado, the city of Grand Junction provides a stark contrast to McAllen, Texas, a town that the New Yorker cited last summer as the most expensive health care market in the country.

Grand Junction, by contrast, is setting an example at the other end of the health care spectrum: low-cost, high quality-and nearly universal coverage. Colorado Public News, a new public media venture, compares the two towns and explores how Grand Junction built its system and what makes it unusual compared to other models.

Almost every Grand Junction woman has prenatal care and nearly everyone has a physician. Collaboration, coordination and good communication were essential to the success of the system, Colorado Public News found. Watch their report here:

In Seattle, another model is the Swedish Medial Center. Patients pay a flat $45 a month for primary care. There are no co-pays or deductibles. Coverage includes checkups, immunizations, lab tests and minor surgeries.

“Family doctors can take care of 95 percent of people’s needs,” said Dr. Carol Cordy at the Swedish Medial Center in a report by KCTS 9.

On the East Coast, WHYY looks at doctor shortages, a rising concern as Congress pushes for more health care access. In Scranton, the new Commonwealth Medical College opened this year to train doctors and encourage them to practice in Pennsylvania.

“A group of community people came together and were very concerned about [the] physician workforce and they realized that every hospital, every practice was recruiting for physicians,” Robert D’Alessandri, the school’s president, said in a report on WHYY. “And that within the next 10 to 15 years, over half the doctors in the area were going to retire.”

The school hopes graduates will stay in the area and fill vacancies in key fields, including primary care providers.