Forum seeks community input on healthcare

Published 11:46 am Friday, January 2, 2009

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It was something Wayne Ferguson stumbled on while surfing the Barack Obama Web site. A long-time enthusiast on health care reform and nutrition, Ferguson saw that the Obama campaign was encouraging individuals to host grass roots forums where ideas about how to change health care in the United States could get a hearing.

“I thought about it for a day or two,” Ferguson said. Then, he decided to host one of his own opening it up to the Tri-State.

Now, days after the event this past Saturday, Ferguson is gathering the ideas and comments with the intent of sending it to Obama’s people.

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“The big problems are the uninsured and the underinsured,” he said.

Right now, those with limited or no insurance usually depend on the emergency room for their care, which reduces the opportunity for preventive care.

“Basically, it is a burden on the whole system. Even though they don’t have insurance, they’re getting treatment, usually at a crisis. Everyone else is paying for it and it is not very efficient.”

But just as importantly, he hopes that this dialogue on health care can continue throughout the Tri-State. And to do that, not only will Ferguson post a summary of the local forum ideas on his Web site, he intends to create an online mailing list where local people interested can continue the discussion.

“If we are going to solve the health care crisis, we are going to have to provide care more comprehensively and universally, we need to save a ton of money,” Ferguson said. “One way is through better diets and choices.

“I feel this is just the beginning. We are one small part of a bigger solution taking place across the country,” he said. “In the 1990s soon after Bill Clinton took office, there was a push for health care reform, there was a perception that it was being created behind closed doors.”

That idea was used by those against health care reform to defeat the effort, Ferguson contends.

That’s why he sees the grass roots meetings as a way of keeping the lines of communication open between the administration and the country.

“It all went very nicely,” he said about the meeting. “They were all very passionate and well-prepared. The main thing is that we all become engaged in the process. That way we will end up with a result that is better for all of us.”

To read the summary of the forum when it is compiled later this month or to contact Ferguson about this issue, go to