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Round-table discussion in New London poses health care quality question

New London - At a round-table discussion Monday at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, participants were asked a simple yet complex question: "What does quality health care mean?"

For some it meant having access to doctors and getting to spend time with them; for others it meant not fearing the cost; and for some it meant getting preventive care before conditions escalate.

Lynne Ide, director of advocacy at Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, served as a moderator for the discussion that was sponsored by AFT Connecticut as part of the national "Day of Action" to reclaim the promise of quality health care.

AFT events were happening elsewhere across the country, including one in Hartford, where there was a round-table discussion on public education.

"We believe in health care for every resident in Connecticut," Ide said. "We're not set in one way to get there as long as we get there."

Ide guided the group of 10 participants, some of which included members of the AFT union, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital nurses, members of clergy and community organizations, the New London NAACP and the city's mayor office, in a conversation about quality health care.

Ocean Pellett, a board member of United Action Connecticut, an interfaith, multiracial, multilingual organization of congregations, said even people with health insurance are afraid to seek medical attention because they can't afford the high deductible or the exorbitant cost. "People are making these choices because they are worried about the cost, and it shouldn't be that way," Pellett said.

Don Wilson, president of the New London NAACP chapter, noted that "how much money they have often determines the quality of care."

Wilson said he would like health care to shift to "resolutional" care, where the focus would not be on cost but about resolving medical issues.

Daniel Durant, community engagement coordinator for AFT Connecticut, said the goal of the discussion was to get people to talk about health care, especially as the Affordable Care Act mandates that the uninsured sign up for health insurance.

Access Health CT, the agency formed to develop the state's health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, has enrolled 23,440 people as of last Wednesday.

i.larraneta@theday.com

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