Fontaine, Howell, Rheuban Named to Governor's Health Reform Task Forces

September 17, 2010

September 17, 2010 — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has named three University of Virginia administrators to task forces charged with implementing federal health care reform in the state.

Dorrie K. Fontaine, dean of the School of Nursing and Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing, was named to the Service Delivery and Payment Reform Task Force, one of six task forces designated as part of the new Virginia Health Reform Initiative Council.

Ed Howell, vice president and CEO of the U.Va. Health System, was tapped to serve on the Medicaid Reform Task Force, and Dr. Karen Rheuban, medical director of the Office of Telemedicine for the U.Va. School of Medicine, was named to the Technology Task Force.

"We have pulled together a top-notch group of stakeholders that will help set the platform for the future of health care in Virginia," said council chair Dr. Bill Hazel, the state Secretary of Health and Human Resources. "Through their guidance, our commonwealth will begin to tackle the issues within the existing health care system and work toward affordable, quality care for all Virginians."

The Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council, announced in August, is tasked with recommending to McDonnell a comprehensive strategy for implementing health care reform in Virginia. Going beyond the provisions of federal health care reform, the council is expected to recommend innovative solutions to address health care access, cost and delivery in the Commonwealth that might also serve as a model for other states.

Virginia's improved health system is foreseen as an economic driver, providing more "effective and efficient delivery of high-quality health care at lower cost," according to the press release announcing the task forces. Each of the six task forces will develop a key section of the council's ultimate recommendations.

Fontaine said she looks forward to contributing to the work of the task force.

"I know I'm in great company given the caliber of the other task force members just announced," she said. "It is exciting to consider the positive impact we will have on the health care we provide to the people of Virginia. Recently, I worked at the annual Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Va., where I saw firsthand some of the desperate needs of our fellow Virginians. The growing aging population in our state, combined with the continuing nursing shortage, makes this initiative more important than ever."

Likewise, Howell said he was honored to serve. "It is a privilege to represent the University of Virginia in this capacity. Health care reform will have a significant impact on patients and providers, and there are many uncertainties. Meanwhile, Medicaid is right now playing a very important role in our health care system. Ensuring its success is vital to the many citizens of the Commonwealth that depend on Medicaid for access to quality medical care, and for health care providers at a time of increasing pressures on federal and state budgets."

For the full list of task force members and further details, click here. For information about the formation of the Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council, click here.