Katrina: Health Care System Recovery, Reform, and Renaissance

By Julie C Morial, MD, MPH

Fall 2007 - Volume 11 Number 4


Universal Coverage

Two years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall and swept through southeastern coastal Louisiana and the metropolitan New Orleans area, a disturbing portrait of health care emerges. Established during Governor Huey Long’s administration in the 1930s, the Louisiana health care system today is considered to be expensive and inefficient.1 High rates of poverty and lack of financial resources were cited prior to Katrina to explain the alarming statistics that show Louisiana to be a high-spending and low-performing state.

With the destruction of much of the health care system in south Louisiana, there are a myriad of uncertainties when considering how to rebuild the infrastructure, how to protect the citizens, how to reestablish and perhaps reconfigure programs and services. The region’s recovery will be affected for years to come by the decisions made today.

Our political will and enthusiastic passion for the provision of universal coverage and primary, quality-driven care must supersede any ideological or political differences that have divided us in the past. My specific health care delivery recommendations to enact this universal coverage will follow a survey of Louisiana’s current demographic, health, and economic landscape.


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