‘Health Care Revolt’ visits Burrillville

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BURRILLVILLE – Is a failing health care system in America also to blame for a gradually eroding Democracy?

Dr. Michael Fine, former director of the Rhode Island Department of Health thinks so, and he’s ready for a revolt.

Fine visited Burrillville Wednesday, May 29 for a talk aimed at providing a fresh analysis and a new vision for health care in the U.S.

“Citizens and politicians are saying that the U.S. health care system is broken: replete with overpriced over-the-counter drugs, inefficiencies in tracking costs and in providing services, and in paying insurance company executives millions of dollars from rate payer premiums,” explained an announcement promoting the event. “But in-spite of increased costs and increased outrage, today’s deliberations about a revamped health care system are stuck.”

Fine has focused his career as both a family physician and manager in the field of healthcare, to healthcare reform and the care of underserved populations. Prior to serving as director for RIDOH, Fine was medical program director at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections; and founder and managing director of HealthAccessRI, the nation’s first statewide organization making prepaid, reduced fee-for-service primary care available to people without employer-provided health insurance. He also was physician operating officer of Hillside Avenue Family and Community Medicine, the largest family practice in Rhode Island; and physician-in-chief of the Rhode Island and Miriam Hospitals’ Departments of Family and Community Medicine.

Fine also founded the non-profit Scituate Health Alliance, making rural Scituate, Rhode Island the first community in the United States to provide primary medical and dental care to all its residents.

His recent book, Health Care Revolt: How to Organize, Build a Health Care System, and Resuscitate Democracy―All at the Same Time, looks around the world for examples of health care systems that are effective and affordable, pictures such a system for the U.S., and creates a practical playbook for a revolution to protect health and strengthen democracy.

It’s hailed as an impassioned road map for a nation confused about which health care direction to travel.

At the event at Jesse Smith Memorial Library, Fine read from the book and discussed the topic.

The event was sponsored by Health Care Revolt, an organization of Rhode Island health care workers, health professionals, students and consumers; local activist Paul Roselli; and “911 4 911,” a group calling for restored funding to the state’s emergency 911 system.

The groups met before the event for a reception at the Waterfall Cafe, and both the reception and talk are free and open to the public.

Roselli, who has working with others involved in health care reform in the state and with the 911 4 911 group, was hopeful the event would help to get more northern Rhode Islanders involved with the issue.

“I’m bringing Dr. Fine to the Northwest corner of Rhode Island as we usually get shortchanged with state wide initiatives,” said Roselli. “We’ve seen what a rural community can do once they are mobilized and have a common purpose. I helped lead the fight against the Power Plant nearly 4 years ago by educating the public – brining science and data and experts who have a clear understanding of the issues and can offer concrete solutions. It is my hope to do the same with health care.”

Roselli noted that Rhode Island spends more than $12 billion a year on health care, and wastes $6 billion in advertising, executive salaries, wasteful expensive procedures and mismanagement.

“A healthcare revolt is the only way for reform,” he said. “And we, the ratepayers have to be the ones who initiate the fight.”

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