Mark Trahant: Getting into Indian health reform
"This is a story about how one thing leads to another – or the reason I am writing about health care reform for the next year or so.

A few months ago the Hearst Corporation announced that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, my professional home for the past six years, was for sale. Unless a buyer was found – something unlikely – then the print product would be closed. As bad as this sounds, I can’t complain. This came at a good time for me. I loved my job – and I have had a great ride in journalism. But I viewed this as an opportunity to push myself in a new direction.

That’s where serendipity played a role.

First I applied for the Kaiser Media Fellowship. I thought it would be intellectually challenging to dive deep into a subject and to write about it consistently. Health care seemed a natural fit for several reasons. I’m grateful that Kaiser agreed – because now I have the gift of time.

Why health care reform? First, I believe that this country made a mistake with employer-based health care insurance. It worked fine when people went to work for one company – and stuck it out for a long stretch of time. But the world has changed. In Seattle, for example, there is an entire workforce of contractors who must buy their own, individual health insurance policies. Or what works for a major manufacturer doesn’t fit for a small construction company where employees are hired only after successful bids. Employer-based care doesn’t seem to work for a growing number of companies. Second, over the years I have been struck by how little discussion there has been about how existing federal health care agencies should be a part of the new structure, such as the Indian Health Service. Third, for a long time I have been fascinated by demographics. This country (indeed, the world) is going through an aging in a way that’s unprecedented. We have to come up with a health care plan that is sustainable for both ends of the system: Those who pay for it, the workers, as well as the ginormous Baby Boom who are mostly at the receiving end."

Get the Story:
Serendipity and a correction (Mark Trahant 7/13)

Related Stories:
Mark Trahant: Lessons from Indian Country health (7/10)
Mark Trahant: IHS isn't broken, just underfunded (7/9)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care at the local level (7/8)
Mark Trahant: IHS could be a model for reform (7/7)