From Gregg Kaufman - Report From a Forum about Health Care

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  • Graph representing forum outcomes

The following report from Gregg Kaufman describes a National Issues Forums (NIF) focused course that was presented at the University of North Florida within the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) series.

The University of North Florida OLLI program offered its first NIFI-related course in October 2015: Deliberative Democracy: Civil Discourse About Critical Public Issues. The group of twenty-three people enjoyed six forum topics, among them Health Care: How Can We Reduce Costs and Still Get the Care We Need? When the group debriefed the health care forum, one of the participants observed, “I believe we represent a diversity of political views, yet I am surprised by the agreement we discovered after dialogue. We appear more moderate in our judgments.”

The deliberators recognized the value of a single-payer system resulting in a higher percentage of Americans having health care insurance, but agreed that the system should be managed by a public-private partnership. The group favored personal choice relative to end-of-life medical care and valued organizations that helped people determine and record advanced directives. Hospital costs and service-pricing transparency earned much support as well as Medicare and secondary insurance providers investing in wellness care and health education. The issue of pharmaceutical corporate media advertising resulted in a healthy tension. While a majority of the deliberators desired a broadcast media advertising ban, especially during the evening news programs, a vocal minority questioned the limitations on corporate freedom to promote the products that required significant research and development investment.

At the end of the course, the class reflected on the forums and endeavored to plot their agreement or common ground. The graph illustrates an observation of the dialogue moderate outcomes.