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NEARLY 100 PITTSBURGH CITIZENS TO JOIN UNIQUE LOCAL-NATIONAL CONVERSATION ON HEALTHCARE

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PITTSBURGH -- WQED Multimedia, Carnegie Mellon University and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will gather approximately 100 citizens making up a representative sample of Allegheny County residents to discuss healthcare on Saturday, October 29 at Carnegie Mellon. This event is part of a national Deliberation Week, when nearly 1000 Americans in 16 cities across the country will participate in Citizen Deliberative Forums to discuss one of two critically important issues facing the nation: healthcare or education.

Allegheny County residents attending the October 29th Citizens Forum on Healthcare will discuss the issues of access, cost and quality of healthcare and in particular how to implement cuts in Medicaid that will minimize impact to the citizens of Pennsylvania. Also to be discussed will be the plan of the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative to reduce costs and improve quality of care to radically reduce in-hospital infection rates.

The dialogue will also include discussions about the role of government versus the role of the individual citizen in addressing healthcare on a national and local level. Participants were selected randomly from the population of Allegheny County by a recruiting firm specializing in this work.

Excerpts of local discussions from the Citizen Deliberations will be included in By the People, a national program that will air on WQED tv13 on Thursday, November 10, at 9:00 pm. This one-hour special will be anchored by The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer senior correspondent Ray Suarez. WQED will create eight-minute pieces to be featured on On Q including in-studio interviews with key participants. In addition, eight-minute "day of" coverage pieces will be inserted into the national program that will air on WQED tv13.

A web link from www.wqed.org will link all partner web sites in the Pittsburgh area, and Deliberation Day activities will be highlighted in all WQED media - television, radio, print and Internet.

Deliberation Week gives local reporters an unparalleled opportunity to observe the dialogue when citizens representing diverse backgrounds get a chance to talk with each other across their differences. Reporters will also have access to the results of a Deliberative Opinion Poll, which will show how local participants' views on healthcare are changed by participating in the dialogue. Local survey questions will focus on spring 2006 Pennsylvania State Senate policy changes designed to cut Medicaid costs, and on policies that affect the quality of healthcare in the region.

WQED Multimedia, Carnegie Mellon and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh are partnering with the Pennsylvania Center for Women; Politics and Public Policy at Chatham College; the League of Women Voters; the Pittsburgh Mediation Center; Coro Center for Civic Leadership and its Fellowship In Local Democracy Program; Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative; and The Institute of Politics, Health Policy Institute; and the Department of Health Policy and Management all at the University of Pittsburgh in organizing Deliberation Week in Pittsburgh.

The participants' discussions will be informed by non-partisan meetings in small groups and in a large session, where they will ask questions of experts representing a variety of perspectives. They will read balanced discussion guides and watch videotaped background pieces produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Views from participants at the Citizen Deliberations will be compared with national Deliberative Polling data on what people from all over the country think, on reflection, after they have had a chance to learn more about the issues.

Deliberation Week runs from October 22-29, 2005. In addition to these deliberations hosted by PBS stations and their partners, the week will include forums sponsored by community colleges and civic groups around the country.

By the People is a three-year-old project in civic engagement organized by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, with major funding by the Flora and William Hewlett Foundation, with additional funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It seeks to energize and enhance the national conversation on important issues of the day through a series of national and local broadcasts and events that demonstrate the relevance of national and global policy issues to local concerns. More information can be found at www.pbs.org/newshour/btp


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