Residents to discuss health care

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fifteen Albert Lea residents will discuss how to improve health care delivery in a Community Conversation on Health Care, Tuesday, March 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Albert Lea University of Minnesota Extension Regional Center.

Conversation participants will addres two questions: What, if any, concerns do you have about your healthcare coverage? And if you were in control of changing one thing about your healthcare coverage to make it better for you, what would that change be?

The Albert Lea converstion will be linked, via the Internet, to simultaneous converstions in 11 other Minnesota communities. A local facilitator will guide each converstion. A central moderator and team of theme analysts will identify main themes of the conversation. A central moderator and team of theme analysts will identify main themes of the conversations and report them back to the local groups so participants can further discuss and rank them in importance.

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Individuals interested in participating in the coversation should contact Mary Laeger-Hagemeister at 379-3523 or to register. You must be registered to attend the event.

Each participant will receive discussion materials prior to the event. These materials are being prepared by experts in the health care field and reviewed to assure they are accurate and unbiased.

A report on the community conversations&8217; major themes will be sent afterward to participants, the media, members of the state legislature&8217;s Health Care Access Commission, and local government officials. These themes will be used to formulate discussion topics for a larger, statewide &8220;21st Century Town Meeting&8221; at a later date. The themes will also be posted on a website so participants and other site visitors can follow up on the conversation adn continue to share information and views with each other.

Minnesota First Nonprofit is organizing the community conversations, in partnership with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, the University of Minnesota Extension Service and a number of community organizers. The Otto Bremer Foundation has provided funding.

&8220;Our goal is to increase the level of informed citizen input in our state&8217;s policymaking process,&8221; said Carol Eastlund, director of Minnesota First Nonprofit. &8220;People today are very busy, yet they want to have their thoughts and ideas included in decisions that affect us all. Community conversations provide an opportunity for people to be hear.&8221;