Off the Beaten Path hosts 'fireside chat' to address reform

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If you go

What: Health care reform

panel discussion

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 68 Ninth St.

Cost: Free

Call: 879-6830

— A Monday evening discussion about health care reform is the first in a series of planned "fireside chats" about national issues at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.

Bookstore owner Ron Krall plans to moderate the discussion, which he hopes will provide a chance for attendees to present their points of view and put questions on the table about health care.

"Rather than an opportunity to listen to some experts give opinions, what I'm going to try to do is create an environment where we can have a conversation about health care reform," Krall said. The free chat is from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Off the Beaten Path.

Krall put together an "informal panel of people who have some expertise or interest in health care reform" for the event, he said.

The group comprises Carole Milligan, medical director for Hospice of Northwest Colorado, chairwoman of the Ethics Committee at Yampa Valley Medical Center and a retired radiation oncologist; Sue Birch, chief executive officer at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association; Todd Hagenbuch, Northwest Colorado regional representative for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and a Routt County native; and Jay Fetcher, Northwest Colorado regional representative for Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Krall hopes to "draw on the expertise of these people to generate a conversation among the people who attend about why it is that we need health care reform," and what to expect from various proposals, he said.

"The goal is to increase the mutual understanding of the rationales for health care reform, the reasons for health care reform, what we think are good solutions, solving the problems of health care, and then what kinds of actions we can individually take and what we can reasonably expect to happen as the legislation winds its way through Congress," Krall said.

Milligan said her years as a physician inform her interest in health care reform, whether the discussion is about the system or specific action in Congress.

"My goal with participating in anything like this is really trying to carry on a dialogue with people and really trying to educate them," she said.

Hagenbuch said he will try "as best as I can" to represent Bennet's position on health care reform at the event; Hagenbuch described that position as being oriented toward a need to talk about the topic, rather than a definite answer to its questions.

"I just hope that people come with an open mind, (that) people come with a roundtable attitude that this is a conversation we all need to have. And I do think that's what's going to happen" Hagenbuch said, expressing a hope that people come to the discussion regardless of their position, "pros, cons or otherwise."

Krall said he hopes to make Monday's health care discussion the first in a series of guided conversations that address national issues.

"I felt that if a bookstore can't be a place where big ideas are discussed, then what's it there for?" Krall said.

"We hope that part of our role in the community is to create a place where people can come and talk about the big issues that confront us in our social lives, if you will. So this is a topic that touches everybody, in which we should all have an interest," he said.

Krall does not have a list of future topics set but said he thinks there are several topics for which there is expertise among Routt County residents.

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