Introductions: Scott Leitz

As an unapologetic policy wonk and lover of health policy, I am honored and pleased to be blogging here.  I joined Children’s in December 2009 as our director of child health policy and advocacy.  Prior to joining Children’s, I spent over 15 years working on state health policy issues, most recently as Assistant Commissioner of Health in Minnesota, with responsibility for health reform.

In my years working in health policy, I’ve come to believe that regardless of the perspective you start with—physician, hospital, nurse, health plan, government official — there’s value in advocating your perspective and letting your views be known.  Not everyone is going to agree all the time, but unless we have ideas on the marketplace, we’ll never get good public policy.

I will be blogging about health policy and health reform issues.   The challenges facing our health care system are enormous:

• we still have too many Americans who lack health insurance
• health care costs that are too high and make insurance coverage unaffordable for many families
• quality of care is uneven and we don’t get the best value we could be for our health care dollars
• the way we pay for health care is fundamentally flawed, with little emphasis on prevention
• there are unacceptable disparities in health outcomes across racial and ethnic groups

Those challenges are what make this a daunting and incredible opportunity.

From the perspective of children, we’re fortunate in Minnesota to be starting from a place that most states would envy.  We have few uninsured kids than most states, our general population health is pretty good, and we get good health outcomes at relatively low cost.

That said, the opportunities for improvement are remarkable — there are tremendous and unacceptable disparities in health outcomes between children in different racial and ethnic groups, we’ve seen a steady increase in uninsured kids, our rates of teen pregnancy and STIs remain too high, and childhood obesity continues to increase.  We need to do better and Children’s can and should play a key role in this.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you, and I hope you will share yours back — just leave a comment below.  As in good public policy making, an open back and forth makes the best blogging.

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