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Governor Howard Dean on Children’s Health Reforms

May 30, 2014

Children’s Law Center was joined today by former Governor Howard Dean for a wide-ranging discussion about healthcare reform and children, including a look at promising practices nationwide and in the District that have been proven to improve children’s health and well-being.

Hosted by McKenna Long & Aldridge, the breakfast brought together about 60 leaders from the legal, business, healthcare and education communities for a discussion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other innovative reforms. It was moderated by Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow.

Governor Dean emphasized the trend toward outcomes-based care under the ACA, which he said will move the healthcare system toward a “wellness system instead of a sickness system.”

By changing billing practices to reimburse physicians for wellness efforts, the reforms can help the District and other areas expand successful prevention programs like home visiting. Through in-home counseling, home visiting programs help women stay healthy during pregnancy and connect new parents to community resources to improve their parenting skills. The programs have been shown to reduce the potential for child abuse and neglect, and improve children’s health.

Governor Dean also highlighted other promising models, including medical-legal partnerships that put lawyers side-by-side with pediatricians to find legal remedies to health problems. Children’s Law Center was an early pioneer of the medical-legal model, and currently works with pediatricians in five health centers within Children’s National Health System and Mary’s Center.

“Teaming pediatricians and lawyers is a great idea – you have two different professionals with different insights who can attack the scope of the problem,” Governor Dean said.

He also noted the importance of education and said that doctors, lawyers and teachers need to think of each other as all on one team to put children on a long-term path to success.

“You can’t just treat asthma or just take landlords to court and call it a day,” Governor Dean said. “You need to make sure these kids grow up in good homes and that they have an education; it’s all interrelated,” he said.

The event was the first in a series of Children’s Law Center breakfasts that will bring national leaders together with members of the District’s legal, health and education communities to discuss how to improve the well-being of vulnerable District children. 

Upcoming speakers will include U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in July and former National Institutes of Health Director Elias Zerhouni in October.

You can view more pictures from the May 30 breakfast event with Governor Dean on our Facebook page.