Study of Grand Junction’s health-care system begins

Academic study of the Grand Junction health-care system kicked off Thursday when physicians, employers, insurers and others sat down with the people who will study them.

Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom met via video hookup from Indiana University, Bloomington, with a dozen people representing various parts of the Grand Junction system, as it’s become known.

Ostrom’s research team will meet with as many people as possible who deal with the system or are involved in similar community efforts. They’re trying to determine if some of the lessons of Grand Junction can be translated to other parts of the country.

The idea, though, is not to come up with a national plan based on the Grand Junction experience, said Michael D. McGinnis, director of the university’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

“That’s the wrong sort of lesson,” he said.

The researchers hope to glean information from Grand Junction, Bloomington and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that will help other communities provide better, less expensive care.

“There is a type of collaborative magic going on in Grand Junction,” said Claudia Brink, assistant director of the workshop.

Brink and a graduate student will interview people between June 20 and July 8.

McGinnis and Brink attended the Thursday session in the Rocky Mountain Health Plans offices.

The study is being conducted under a $295,000 grant from the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation.

The study isn’t intended to deal with immediate political or policy questions, but to understand the factors that drive the Grand Junction system of nonprofit organizations, McGinnis said.

It also will have to come to terms with some hard realities, Dr. David West said.

West recently treated a woman who suffered kidney failure as a result of a cancer of which she was unaware. She also had refused to purchase insurance or seek preventive measures, but expected and received treatment when she showed up seeking “rescue care,” West said.

“Twenty years of Pap smears would have been cheaper than what she faces,” West said.

The cost of her treatment, however, will be borne by others, he said.

Ostrom said she and her team hope to see how the Grand Junction system operates when confronted with such difficult cases.

“For certain things to be accomplished, we all have to take certain actions, some of which may be costly,” Ostrom said, “but for which we’ll all be better off.”

Preliminary results of the study are expected by mid-fall with additional detail by June 2012.


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