A key piece of the Coalition’s work involves keeping consumers engaged and active in their health care. We believe that teaching the public about cost and quality issues helps to create an environment that is open to changes in how we receive and pay for care, and that without a public dialogue many of our efforts would be stifled by a community that is reluctant to change. To encourage that dialogue, the Coalition has undertaken a number of activities to foster civic engagement in health care issues.
GetBetterPortland – GetBetterPortland is a Coalition initiative designed to engage the City of Portland’s Joint Labor Management Committee in developing, piloting, and eventually promoting internally and among other Portland employers, a value-based insurance design.
Over the last 18 months, members of the Coaliton’s staff have been meeting with the City’s unions and management to teach them about healthcare issues, and to foster trust and a shared vision of better care at a lower cost for City employees. The project is still ongoing, but there have already been some notable successes. So far the group has produced an insurance plan template that Dr. Mark Fendrick of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design called “one of the most advanced value-based purchasing programs [he] has worked on.” Perhaps most impressive though, is the new constructive working relationship between the City’s unions and management. Where there was once a good degree of distrust, there is now a shared vision for a healthier Portland and the trust that everyone involved is working for the good of the City. Additionally, the management and union leaders that took part in the GetBetterPortland initiative have now become outspoken advocates of health care reform, and their cheerleading has smoothed the path for the City to make changes that would have otherwise been met with skepticism and disapproval.
The Healing of America Book Club – In 2011 the Maine Health Management Coalition started a statewide book club that read and discussed T.R. Reid’s The Healing of America. The book describes how other nations around the world pay for and deliver healthcare, and it urges readers to consider health care reform as a means to improving our 37th ranking in international health care quality.
To encourage the public to take part in the book club, the MHMC teamed up with universities, libraries, and businesses around the state to promote the book, and we created a book club section on getbettermaine.org where users could find book clubs in their area, find discounts at local book retailers, and download reader’s guides and other materials.
After several months of promoting the book and holding book club meetings, The Healing of America Book Club culminated in a week long series of talks given by the author around the state that drew over 16,500 people. In addition to the face to face talks, the Coalition was able to reach hundreds of thousands of other Mainers through print, television, and online promotions.
Care About Your Care – Care About Your Care was a coordinated effort with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to increase awareness about what consumers can do to identify and receive better health care. From September through December of 2011, the Coalition worked with the RWJF and Dr. Mehmet Oz to highlight local tools and resources that are available to help consumers make savvy healthcare choices. The Coalition also worked with employers to make those resources available to their staff, and created contests to encourage participation.