Baton Rouge --- The ongoing process to reform health care delivery and services for the state will move forward next week, with the first meeting of the Governor’s recently appointed Health Care Reform Panel. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco announced last week the panel’s first meeting as Thursday, June 24 in New Orleans.

The meeting will be held at the New Orleans Marriott, located at 555 Canal Street in New Orleans, from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend and observe the first working session of the panel.

The Panel was formed following the statewide Health Care Summit in March to look at both short-term and long-term solutions for improving health care in Louisiana. Membership on the panel includes individuals from both the private and public sector with backgrounds in the different aspects of health care.

During the first meeting, panel members will discuss the Department of Health and Hospitals’ preliminary report that addresses providing care to the uninsured, improving access to health care resources, restructuring long-term care, seeking better ways to promote health education and awareness, improving the administrative processes of health care and achieving better outcomes by focusing on primary and preventive care.

After its first meeting, the panel will meet quarterly to continue studying data and trends to make recommendations for improved health care. In addition to the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel, the Legislature and the Department of Health are forming regional consortia throughout the state to hold regular meetings to discuss health care in their respective regions.

These consortia, made up of an unlimited number of qualified individuals from each area of the state with an interest in both public and private health care fields, will send reports to the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel for review and consideration. The process is designed to ensure statewide input into the health care reform process.

For questions about the health care panel meetings or the regional consortia meetings, contact the Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of the Secretary at 225-342-9500.

What is the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel?
The panel is a group of individuals who are national experts on health care, legislative and government leaders, business leaders and a representative from each of the nine health care regions throughout the state.

What is the purpose of the panel?
The purpose of the panel is to provide guidance and support to the Department of Health in a continuing effort to improve access and quality of health care for the citizens of Louisiana. 

What will the panel do?
Each of the panel members has committed to serve for the next two years.  The panel will meet each quarter and be responsible for:

• Reviewing the Department’s preliminary report prepared in response to input received at the Governor’s 2004 health care summit;

• Studying and discussing the state of health and health care in Louisiana and make recommendations for change;

• Being a resource by either sharing personal expertise or directing policymakers to issue-specific experts throughout the state and country; 

• Providing direction to the Department in developing and implementing objectives for the overall improvement in Louisiana’s health care system.

What are the expected outcomes of the first meeting?

1) Overall understanding of the state of the state for Louisiana.

2) Identification of critical issues that need to be addressed not present in the Department’s recommendations.

3) Identification of work groups to be established.

4) Identification of quick successes not addressed in the Department’s recommendations.

What is the preliminary report being presented to the panel members?
The Department of Health has utilized the information that was collected and disseminated before, during and after the statewide Health Care Summit to prepare suggestions for improving access and delivery of health care in Louisiana. The report provides recommendations in six major areas which includes:

Focus Area A - Providing Care to the Uninsured
Focus Area B - Access to Appropriate Health Care Resources
Focus Area C - Improve and Restructure Long Term Care
Focus Area D - Health Education and Awareness
Focus Area E - Improved Administrative Delivery of Health Care
Focus Area F - Focus on Performance Outcomes Using Evidence Based Principles

How can I get a copy of the Department’s report?
As of June 24, the report will be available on the Department of Health and Hospitals’ web site at

How can I get details on what is happening with the Panel?
The above web site will provide access to all reports, presentations, minutes and comments that are received by the panel.

Can I address the panel?
As this is the first working meeting of the panel, the public is welcome to attend and observe.  Your questions and comments are welcome and we encourage each participant to utilize the comment cards provided at the registration desk.  Questions and/ or comments will be reviewed and posted on the web site for viewing by the general public.

Who are the panel members?

Frederick P. Cerise, M.D., M.P.H. (Chairman)
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Secretary

John Breaux (Honorary Co-Chairman)
United States Senator

John A. Alario, Jr.
House Appropriations Committee, Chairman

Diana E. Bajoie 
Louisiana Senate, President Pro Tempore

James C. “Jim” Brandt
Public Affairs Research Council, President

Sharon Weston Broome 
Louisiana House of Representatives, Speaker Pro Tempore
Alice Burton
Academy Health, State Health Group Director

Gary Crockett
Region 9 Representative

Sydnie Mae Durand
House Health and Welfare Committee, Chairwoman

Barry Erwin
Council for A Better Louisiana, President

Connie Gistand, M.D.
Region 1 Representative

Francis C. Heitmeier
Senate Finance Committee, Chairman

Donald E. Hines, M.D.
Louisiana State Senate, President

Linda Holyfield
Region 8 Representative

Julia Hughes, Ph.D.
Tulane Health Science Center, School of Public Health, 
Department of Health Systems Management

Jan Kasofsky
Region 2 Representative

Jeanne M. Lambrew, Ph.D.
George Washington University, Associate Professor of Health Policy  

Jerry Luke LeBlanc
Division of Administration, Commissioner

Mark McMurry
Region 5 Representative

Fred Mills
Region 4 Representative

William J.“Joe”McPherson, Jr. 
Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Chairman

Len M. Nichols, Ph.D.
Center for Studying Health System Change, Vice President

Carol V. O’Shaughnessy, M.A. 
Congressional Research Service, Specialist in Social Legislation

Chris Rich, M.D.
Region 6 Representative

John A. Rock, M.D.
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Chancellor

Diane Rowland, Sc.D.
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Executive Vice President

Joe R. Salter
Louisiana House of Representatives, Speaker

Kenneth E. Thorpe, Ph.D.
Emory University, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management

Reed Tuckson, M.D.
United Health Group, Senior Vice President of Consumer Health and Medical Care Advancement

Willie White
Region 7 Representative

Gary Wiltz, M.D.
Region 3 Representative