Work in Progress: Near-Universal Health Care in Grand Junction

Published on
September 27, 2009

My National Health Journalism Fellowship project involves exploring whether an approach taken by Grand Junction, western Colorado's largest city, could work elsewhere and possibly be a model for low-cost, high-quality near-universal health care, at least until something significant is done at the federal level.

In Grand Junction, some 220 doctors have formed a collaborative relationship, the Independent Physicians Association of Mesa County, which features evidence-based medicine, peer-to-peer feed back and a payment incentive program that veers from the fee-for-service model. The doctors are rewarded financially for achieving quality targets, and rewarded moreso for accomplishing that with overall efficiency. The system so far has brought costs down about 30 percent from the average. The docs also credit a collaboration between Grand Junction's largest hospital and a medical clinic, which make sure the patients get to the right place for the right amount of time.

I'll be visiting Grand Junction, conducting several interviews, gathering data, taking photos, etc. If we get some extra money, we will try to go multi-media with video, etc., to showcase the project on Colorado Publiic News, a web site affiliated with our PBS station in Denver.