WASHINGTON-The nation’s governors gather here this weekend to address critical issues, including health care reform and the economy. Governors will also meet with President Obama, members of the Administration, business executives and other experts for discussions on a host of issues and challenges facing states.
Led by NGA Chair Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and NGA Vice Chair West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, business sessions at the three-day event will include three major plenaries and meetings of five NGA committees. The NGA Winter Meeting will run from February 20-22 at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C.
The meeting kicks off this morning, with First Lady Michelle Obama joining governors to discuss childhood obesity during the opening plenary session. The session will also provide an overview of Gov. Douglas’ Chair’s initiative, Rx for Health Reform: Affordable, Accessible, Accountable. In addition, governors will talk about transforming health care delivery in the United States with guests Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, and Dr. Jack Cochran, executive director of The Permanente Federation.
“Health care costs are on track to bankrupt our families, businesses, states and our country if we do not reform our health care system,” Gov. Douglas said. “My Chair’s initiative focuses on helping governors lead the way in improving the quality of our system, providing more insurance coverage and addressing key cost drivers to ensure we have a system that is affordable, accessible and accountable.”
Later this afternoon, governors will take part in two NGA committee meetings: the Health and Human Services Committee will discuss reshaping public health and preparedness, while the Natural Resources Committee will explore ways to advance a green energy economy. Following those sessions, Canada’s premiers will join governors for a special session focused on common challenges, innovative policy solutions and issues related to trade, border security, energy and the environment.
On Sunday, governors will examine the interconnections between health care and the economy during a plenary session moderated by CNBC Anchor Maria Bartiromo. In addition, governors will discuss the future of America’s surface transportation, the state-federal partnership under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and challenges and opportunities in homeland security during three more committee sessions: Economic Development and Commerce; Education, Early Childhood and Workforce; and Homeland Security and Public Safety.
Private “governors-only” sessions, including a meeting with President Obama at the White House, provide governors a venue for sharing their thoughts and views on common challenges.
“As governors, we face many similar issues and can learn a great deal from our colleagues’ experiences,” said Gov. Manchin. “The NGA Winter Meeting gives governors the opportunity to exchange ideas as well as to discuss our shared policy challenges and effective solutions.”
The meeting will conclude Monday, with a plenary session focused on redesigning states in the post-recession economy. Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody’sEconomy.com, and Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, will join governors to offer their perspectives on the economic outlook for states.
Sara Payne Scarbro