The Aspen Institute organized on Monday, 16 May, a meeting of the Working Group of the Healthcare Reform Policy Program. The event, held in a roundtable format with participants coming from all representative communities, follows many months of preparatory activity. The objectives of the program are developing a credible and functional platform for HC reform dialogue and problem solving; create a relation of trust and mutual benefit among stakeholders both public and private; create a system of best practices that can influence reform processes and developments in the HC sectors in the region as well as use the market synergies; insuring a catching up strategy in the field of management but also medical technological, research and education issues.
Aspen Institute Romania brought together representatives of all interested stakeholders and contributors in the field including medical care and services providers (both public and private), manufacturers and product providers, patient associations and representations, NGO's representing the medical sector, federations, unions etc., paying institutions (CNAS, Ministry of Health, local authorities, line ministries operating healthcare providers, private insurers, banks, etc.) policy integrators and contributors (Parliament health committees, regulatory authorities, advisory groups, private sector consultancies). Prof. Cristian Vladescu, Head of the Presidential Committee for the Analysis and Formulation of Public Policy in the Healthcare Field, delivered the keynote speech setting the agenda for the meeting. The discussion was moderated by Mr Bogdan Chiritoiu, President of the Competition Council, and focused on identifying the key challenges to reforming the system. Main problem sources for the reform of the Romanian healthcare system were considered and the discussion was aimed at what should be the defining reform options and suggested proposals based on a brief set of issues provided by the HCRP. Various financing models, including the role of the public private partnership, private management and privatizing insurance management were discussed, together with the role of the private sector in healthcare provision. A significant element of the discussion revolved at the shift from financing procedures and services to financing "health" and the role of primary care, prevention. Also discussed were major challenges to the management and financing of public hospitals and the limited role of the private sector in long term care, chronic and palliative care etc. Cost structure optimization, the role of the "minimum set of services" and budgeting were also raised as major issues. Overall participants reported as positive the inclusiveness of the program community and favorably considered the "methodology" as feasable if both persistence and focus are maintained throughout the duration of the HCRP. Participants agreed on forming five working groups to represent each of the mentioned stakeholder communities. These are to meet regularly and discuss specific policy issues, which are to be integrated, in the end, in a reform proposal, to be presented to decision-makers. Alongside delivering practically oriented policy proposals and recommendations to relevant Romanian authorities and institutions, the program will significantly allow the Romanian expert and representative HC communities to work closer with their pears in the larger framework of the Aspen Network of International Partners and its activities like the Aspen Health Forum.
'The Healthcare Reform Policy Program is established as a permanent, balanced, inclusive, comprehensive and nonpartisan policy program in the field of healthcare policy reform in Romania and the region. It functions autonomously from the Aspen Institute, but governed by the Aspen Executive Board. The jointly established agenda, focuses on five key areas:
1. HC regulatory framework for development and investment, addressed to all relevant HC sectors
2. Budgetary challenges and system reform processes designed for stability and long term planning for HC
3. Development of effective trust and transparency mechanisms needed to insure a functional level-playing field for all private operators in the field
4. Sector priorities and technology & innovation driven changes and development
5. Social and sustainability aspects related to HC systems designed to address and balance social needs and demographic changes.