An Easy “Ask”

Oct 09, 2012

by Mickey Herbert

When Oz Griebel asked me if I would work with him and Bob Patricelli, Marty Gavin and a working group to establish a statewide entity that would bring together our state’s impressive array of health resources to focus on making Connecticut an east coast “Silicon Valley for health care”, I responded almost immediately with a resounding “Yes!”.

From the beginning of my health career dating back to when I first went to work for health care delivery pioneer Dr. Paul M. Ellwood in Minnesota in the early 1970’s, I have felt that if we could just harness the extraordinary health resources our country has, then we could figure out how to provide all Americans with high quality, affordable health care.  And we could do so in an entrepreneurial environment that would never stifle innovation or creativity.

The tough part, of course, is the harnessing, since ours is an enormously complex and sophisticated industry.  I learned that first hand when I chaired two national managed care trade associations in the 1990’s, and again more recently when I have served on the board of our state’s Health First Authority, and now Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange.  And running two health plans in this state over 27 years also gave me a front row seat to our industry’s challenges.

So why not form a Health Council that would bring our state’s health resources together with “our guns checked at the door”?  We would agree to meet in a non-partisan way every few weeks and consider the biggest health challenges and issues that confront us, with truly exceptional speakers to speak to us.  Moreover, those speakers would allow us to interact with them with our own thoughts and remedies.  We can develop an essential habit of meeting and working together to address these challenges. 

When I lived in Minnesota many years ago, I was always struck by the collegial way health organizations worked together there, in what is known as a “Minnesota-nice” environment.  We are now on our way to having that same environment here in Connecticut with our newly-formed Health Council.  We have outstanding speakers committed all the way in to next summer.  I’m proud to be a part of what we are building, and I’m betting you are, too.