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City Club of Eugene: How Can We Achieve Universal Access To Healthcare?

Program Date: March 26, 2021

Air Date: March 29, 2021

From the City Club of Eugene:

In January 2020, the American College of Physicians (ACP) released a new plan for the American health care system in a series of policy papers titled, “Better Is Possible: The American College of Physicians Vision for the U.S. Health Care System.” A central component of this plan was the call for “universal access to care” – i.e. a system that “provides medical care regardless of a person’s place of residence, employment, health status or income.”

This call placed ACP in conflict with many other medical organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA), which in 2019 narrowly rejected a call to endorse single payer (Medicare for All) and has instead focused on other solutions to improve access to care.

We are proud to welcome two amazing leaders from these organizations to share their perspectives—including the importance of professional organizations in the conversation about American health care. In addition, we will focus the conversation on how we can build a sustainable health care system that meets the needs of all Oregonians.

We are lucky to have Oregon’s former governor John Kitzhaber, M.D. as our moderator. Kitzhaber will share insights about the challenges and opportunities he confronted in seeking to modernize Oregon’s health care system and lead in Q&A with the panelists as well.

This program is sponsored by Oregon Physicians for a National Health Program, advocating better care to more people for less money, in Oregon and nationally.


Susan R. Bailey, MD, an allergist/immunologist from Fort Worth, Texas, was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020.

Dr. Bailey, who has been active in the AMA since medical school when she served as chair of the AMA Medical Student Section, has held numerous leadership positions with the AMA. These include serving as chair of both the Advisory Panel on Women in Medicine and the AMA Council on Medical Education, as well as representing the AMA on the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the American Board of Medical Specialties, and COLA.

Her long history of service in helping guide organized medicine extends to the local and state levels as well. She has served as board chair and president of the Tarrant County Medical Society, and as vice speaker, speaker and president of the Texas Medical Association.

Dr. Bailey is an allergist in private practice, and has been with Fort Worth Allergy and Asthma Associates for over 30 years. She completed her residency in general pediatrics and a fellowship in allergy/immunology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and is board certified in allergy and immunology, and pediatrics and has been awarded the title of Distinguished Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

In addition to receiving her medical degree with honors from the Texas A&M University College of Medicine as a member of its charter class, Dr. Bailey was later appointed to the Texas A&M System Board of Regents by then Gov. George W. Bush, and has been named a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M University and of Texas A&M University College of Medicine.

Dr. Bailey is married to W. Douglas Bailey, has two sons and one grandson, and is an elder and longtime choir member of her church.

Dr. Thomas Cooney is Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. He served as program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program from 1984 to 2010 and Vice Chair for Education 1995-2019. Dr. Cooney has been a long-standing member of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, serving as President 1997-98. He also served on the ACGME Residency Review Committee for Internal Medicine from 2003-2010, including 3 years as Vice Chair.

Dr. Cooney’s has focused his scholarly interests on several areas, including HIV medicine, headache, health policy and medical education. Dr. Cooney has held training grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services and workforce-related research grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (“Influences on career choices of Internal Medicine Residents”) and the HRSA Bureau of Health Professions (“National Data Base on General Internal Medicine”).

Dr. Cooney is a former Chair of the Board of Governors, and current Chair-elect of the Board of Regents of the American College of Physicians (ACP). He served as Chair of ACP’s Health and Public Policy Committee, Vice-Chair of the Education and Publications Committee, a member of ACP’s Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee and is a member of the Clinical Guidelines Committee. He has served as Associate Editor at the Journal of Graduate Medical Education since 2012.

John Kitzhaber was born in Colfax, Washington and graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Oregon Medical School. Following his internship in Denver, Colorado he practiced Emergency Medicine in Roseburg from 1974-1989. He was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1978; the State Senate in 1980, 1984 and 1988, serving as Senate President from 1985-1993. He is Oregon’s longest-serving governor, holding that office from 1995- 2003 and 2011-2015.

As Senate President, he authored the groundbreaking Oregon Health Plan, built around a list of health services prioritized on the basis of social values, clinical effectiveness and a consideration of impact on the health of the entire covered population. Hundreds of thousands of low and moderate-income Oregon families and their children still have access to health care because of this work.

During his third term as governor John was a chief architect of Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations, the first effort in the country created on a statewide basis to meet the Triple Aim—better health, better quality, lower cost— with a focus on community and population health. Over the course of five years, this new care model enrolled over 385,000 more people under the ACA Medicaid expansion; maintained benefits, quality and outcomes; and held medical inflation to just 3.4% per member per year for a cumulative total funds savings of over $1.1 billion.

In 2013 Modern Healthcare Magazine ranked John #2 on list of the “100 Most Influential People in Health Care;” and #1 on the list of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives. In 2013, Governing Magazine named John “Public Official of the Year.”

He holds the Chair in Health Policy at the Foundation for Medical Excellence. John is currently a writer, speaker and private consultant on health policy and politics.

He lives in Portland and spends his free time fly fishing and white water rafting on Oregon’s wild and scenic rivers.