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Coping with the Costs of Health Care

Coping with the Cost of Health Care, 2008-2009

Initiative Description

In December of 2008, the UHD Center for Public Deliberation (UHD CPD) in collaboration with the Houston Public Library (HPL) and the Brown Foundation, hosted six different National Issues Forums in three different geographic locations in Houston. UHD CPD and HPL joined with a variety of communities and Presidential Libraries across Texas and the U.S. to discuss the cost of health care using the National Issues Forums (NIF) booklet and format. 

UHD CPD also held two additional forums in December of 2008 and three additional forums in the spring of 2009 to provide even more opportunities to for citizens to deliberate on this issue.


Forty-seven million Americans lack health insurance, while costs continue to spiral out of control for those who do have coverage. Further, one in four Texans lack health insurance coverage and the cost of coverage is increasing ten times faster than income, reports The Center for Public Policy Priorities. The nation spends more than any other country on health care, but many are still dissatisfied with what we have to show for it. Now is the time for citizens to face the difficult choices needed to make our U.S. health care system function properly? Citizens of Houston were asked to join this important forum to learn from other citizen perspectives and to contribute their own perspectives. UHD CPD welcomed and sought a diverse attendance, including diversity of profession, stake, political affiliation, race, ethnicity, and income level. We believe the more we account for different perspectives, the better our decision making will be as a community. This forum was structured using the National Issues Forums format. In this forum, citizens talked with each other in smaller groups and all of their perspectives were recorded in a report for key leaders to read.

Initiative Goals

  • Increase understanding about health care costs in the U.S.
  • Facilitate appreciation for the complexity of the issue.
  • Create awareness in Houston about public deliberation as an important citizen responsibility.
  • Provide opportunities for citizen input on national policy.
  • Improve the quality of our public discourse.

Initiative Outcomes

  • Read the final report for a discussion of outcomes by contacting Dr. Windy Lawrence
  • Dr. Lawrence Speaks to the U.S. Congress about the results of the forum. Read the Houston Chronicle Story by contacting Dr. Windy Lawrence
  • Watch the video documentary of the forums
  • Watch the Student Interviews after the Deliberation on Health Care 
  • Read the stories for the forum
  • CPD organized forums in both English and Spanish and produced issue guides in English as well as Spanish.
  • People between the ages of 18 – 30 held the highest rate of attendance (38.3%) as well as the following diversity:
  • African American 15.2%
  • Hispanic 58.7%
  • American Indian 19.6%
  • White 2.2 %
  • Other 4.3 %

2008 Achieving the Dream at UHD National Issues Forum

Initiative Description

To View the Issue Guide from this Forum contact Dr. Windy Lawrence

In the spring of 2008, a series of focus groups were conducted to explore the perceptions and experiences of both faculty/staff and students surrounding academic success and failure at UHD. Among the findings was the discovery that perceptions about the causes for and approaches to academic failure were dissonant between students, faculty, staff, and administration. Each group had developed a distinct set of attributions for academic failure that blamed the other, and most perspectives were drawn from limited personal experience rather than from collected evidence or extended dialogue. Clearly, there exists a broad and dissonant array of beliefs about issues related to student academic success, and little influence of those beliefs from open discussion with the other groups.

The formation of the UHD Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) in Fall of 2007 created an opportunity to utilize collective deliberation and dialogue as way of addressing the dissonance among UHD stakeholders. A National Issues Forums (NIF) discussion on closing the achievement gap had already been established by the deliberative community and offered a foundation for a more localized discussion for the UHD community.

Initiative Goals

  • Increase knowledge and awareness about the Achieving the Dream initiative across the UHD community of students, faculty, staff, and administration
  • Share diverse perspectives and experiences across groups and individuals in the UHD community regarding academic success and failure at UHD
  • Decrease the misperceptions and misattributions across stakeholder groups at UHD regarding academic success and failure
  • Establish a culture of dialogue across and among various groups within the UHD community

Initiative Outcomes

View the final report for discussion of outcomes by contacting Dr. Windy Lawrence

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