Mostly putting aside politics, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich today addressed local health care industry leaders during an event about improving the health and quality of life for Nashvillians.
Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, discussed a model for improving a community’s health and thus reducing health care costs that “will not be done at the federal level,” but must instead be tackled locally.
“What’s going on in Washington has nothing to do with health,” Gingrich said. The largely insurance-focused reform has more to do with bureaucracy and payments, he said. It will be Americans, not the government, who must make the decision to improve their health and then create community spirit that will reinforce that bias toward healthy living.
Using Nashville as an example, Gingrich explained how a community would lay out the values it wants to achieve, turn those values into a larger vision or goal for a healthy Nashville, set the metrics of how it would be measured and then develop strategies to achieve those goals.
Such a plan would require the input of the people in the city, as well as a concerted commitment from local elected and business officials in working toward those goals, not just having a “New Year’s resolution” approach, he said.
Gingrich said Nashville was a somewhat peculiar place to make these remarks, given that the city is the Silicon Valley of health care innovation and probably has more people per capital with general knowledge about health than anywhere else.
“But that doesn’t necessarily translate that knowledge into community behavior,” he said.
According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Tennessee ranks 42nd out of 50 states and Nashville ranks 84th out of 184 metropolitan areas for health and well-being of their citizens.
Gingrich said his Center is looking for three to five communities to become pioneers in its community-based model for health improvement.
In a question-and-answer session following the event, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said it would be a great thing for Nashville to “step up and be a model for this,” but we’d just have to figure out how to do it.
Gov. Phil Bredesen, in addition to Gingrich and other speakers at the event, noted that measurable health changes could take a long time to achieve.
“There’s no silver bullet. We just have to keep plugging away,” Bredesen said.
The event, “Health and Well-Being: Keys to Transformation,” was hosted by the Nashville Health Care Council, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Health Transformation.
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