Tennessee gubernatorial candidates discuss health care at recent forum hosted by Lipscomb, Healthy Tennessee

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The issue of health care is a frequent topic in the media and is a topic of great interest among candidates for Tennessee’s next governor.

GUBHC_3On Friday, Jan. 19, six candidates vying to succeed current Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, who will complete his two terms of service in January 2019, gathered to discuss this topic at a forum hosted by Lipscomb University and Healthy Tennessee at Spark in downtown Nashville.

Participating in the forum were Mae Beavers, former Tennessee state senator; Randy Boyd, former commissioner of Tennessee Economic and Community Development; Karl Dean, former mayor of Nashville; Craig Fitzhugh, Tennessee State House of Representatives minority leader; Beth Harwell, speaker of the Tennessee State House of Representatives; and Bill Lee, president and CEO of the Lee Company.

Each candidate appeared alone before the crowd of more than 250 government and business leaders, health care industry executives and others for a 15-minute interview with Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry. Lowry led a discussion with each candidate about their view of the health care challenges facing the state and their solutions for resolving these issues. The format allowed candidates to express their opinions and viewpoints without feedback and questions for their opponent.

GUBHC_4Candidates agreed on the seriousness of the opioid epidemic and the high cost of health care, but had differing views of how to address these issues. They also agreed that preventative health care practices and adopting healthier lifestyles is essential for making the state of health care healthier.

“How the next governor will address health-related issues is one of the top concerns of voters across the state,” said Lowry. “We are pleased to have facilitated this important conversation and providing candidates an opportunity to share their plans for making Tennessee a healthier state.”

Lipscomb University has become known across the state as an institution that convenes conversations of significance, often tackling difficult topics such as health care, diversity and transportation. The university has also expanded its health care education offerings over the past decade. In August 2008, Lipscomb launched the first college of pharmacy in Middle Tennessee, and was later the first in the area to establish residency programs. Lipscomb’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences has one of the few master’s programs in the nation that combines exercise and nutrition. Significant primary research is taking place in pharmaceuticals, especially in the area of pain management.

GUBHC_1This fall, Lipscomb will launch its Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.  Last spring, IBM and Lipscomb’s College of Pharmacy announced a partnership on an initiative to help train the next generation of pharmacists on business analytics and insight-derived decision-making and was the first college in the nation to integrate IBM Watson Analytics into its curriculum. In addition, the university’s Master of Science in health care informatics has been ranked No. 11 in the nation by Healthcare Administration Degree Programs.

“The goal of this forum was to provide a meaningful opportunity for each candidate to speak directly to the voters of Tennessee and to provide a unique perspective  on potential solutions to the health care problems facing our state today,” said Dr. Manny Sethi, an orthopedic trauma surgeon and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who founded Healthy Tennessee with his wife, Maya.

“Our state allocates more than one-third of its annual budget toward health care at the expense of other programs such as education and infrastructure, yet the overall health of Tennesseans today is not a strong reflection of the resources invested. Throughout the last decade, Tennessee has consistently found itself in the bottom third of all states in terms of the health of its citizens. We face daunting threats to health and wellness, and this forum will gave us an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates, how they intent to improve the delivery of health care and maintain a sustainable and effective health care system for Tennesseans.”

GUBHC_2Healthy Tennessee is a nonprofit organization that provides health education and community training opportunities through health fairs to improve the lives of Tennesseans. Healthy Tennessee provides free health screenings for all patients performed by physicians and nurses. An easy access website location also offers individuals the chance to study current health care prevention tips, review state and national articles concerning in-depth research on nutrition, as well as information on how to implement health fairs in communities across Tennessee.

For more information about Healthy Tennessee, visit myhealthytennessee.com.

Want to know more about Lipscomb’s health care programs, visit www.lipscomb.edu/cphs.

—Photos by Kristi Jones