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George Halvorson
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George C. Halvorson is the Chairman and CEO of the Institute for InterGroup Understanding. He also chairs the First 5 Commission for Children and Families for the State of California. The Institute works on issues of ethnic and racial conflict and is focussed on closing the learning gaps in American schools. The Commission works on creating optimal health status and learning opportunities for the children of California under the age of five years.

Halvorson has been the CEO for five health care systems over the past thirty years, with his most recent role as chair and CEO for Kaiser Permanente health systems, headquartered in Oakland, California. Kaiser Permanente is a fifty billion dollar company with nearly two hundred thousand care givers and more than five hundred owned care sites. With a highly diverse work force (more than fifty nine percent minority) Kaiser Permanente has had some of the highest quality of care scores and service scores in the country from Medicare, Consumer Reports, and JD Powers.

Halvorson was recently honored with the National Action Network Inaugural Health Care Award – in recognition of his work to address and eliminate health care disparities. He also recently received the 2013 HISTalk Health Care IT Lifetime Achievement Award as well as America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

He has received the Modern Healthcare/Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) CEO IT Achievement Award and will be given the Modern Health Care Vision award later this year. The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange also awarded him the 2009 Louis Sullivan Award for leadership and achievements in advancing health care quality.

In 2012, he was the social media chair for the Global Health Policy Forum and was named No. 6 on Modern Healthcare's annual 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare list.

Halvorson has served on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care, the IOM Task Force on Making America a Learning Health Care Organization, the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Advisory Committee on Health Reform, The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, and the New America Foundation Leadership Council.

He has served on the boards of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP).

Halvorson chaired the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP) and co-chaired the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care for 2010. In 2009, he chaired the World Economic Forum’s Health Governors meetings in Davos.

Halvorson has written seven health care reform guidebooks, including Don’t Let Health Care Bankrupt America: Strategies for Financial Survival; Ending Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Disparities in American Health Care; Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care, Health Care Reform Now!; Health Care Co-ops in Uganda, Strong Medicine; and Epidemic of Care. In 2012, he published KP Inside: 101 Letters to Us at Kaiser Permanente, which is a compilation of letters he has written to KP employees each week since September 27, 2007.

Halvorson served as an adviser to the governments of Uganda, Great Britain, Jamaica, and Russia on issues of health policy and financing. His strong commitment to diversity and inter-ethnic healing has led him to his current writing project, a new book about racial and ethnic prejudice and intergroup conflict around the world.

Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente, Halvorson was president and chief executive officer of HealthPartners, headquartered in Minneapolis, for nearly 18 years. With more than 30 years of health care management experience, he has also held several senior management positions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and Health Accord International.

Entries by George Halvorson

Not Teaching Parents About Early Brain Development Is A Massive and Damaging Public Health Failure

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2015 | 5:36 PM

The biggest single public health deficit and failure in America today is the fact that almost no parents of newborn children have been told or taught that they can improve their child's learning abilities significantly by exercising their baby's brain in the first three years of life.

The basic...

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Learning Gaps In Schools Can't Be Ended By Schools

(7) Comments | Posted September 16, 2015 | 12:50 PM

Learning gaps for children continue to grow in a number of cities and states, and most of the efforts by schools and communities to make those gaps disappear have either had minimum impact or have failed.

The gaps are extreme in some settings.

Minnesota, for example, has had...

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Read/Talk/Sing -- To Build Strong Brains in Very Young Children

(6) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 12:22 PM

We now know that the first three years of life are the years when the brains of children build their internal connections and become strong.

Children whose brains get exercise in the first three years of life have bigger brains -- and those children are more likely to stay...

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Why Do We Believe Strengthening Brains Is the Right Strategy?

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 6:00 AM

For the past several days, I have been writing pieces that say that if we want to reduce the number of people in prison and reduce the number of people who drop out of school because they can't read, we need to help children from birth to three years old...

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The Time to Strengthen the Brains of Our Children Is Now -- Share That Information With Mothers and Families

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 12:48 PM

Most people do not know how important the first three years of life are for the brain development of each child.

Many people believe that kindergarten is the time when the education process begins.

Those people are wrong. The process starts with birth. Brain strengthening and learning ability development literally...

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A Million Dollar Opportunity for Mothers

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 6:00 AM

Brains are strengthened in the first three years of life. Those first three years give us a golden opportunity to strengthen the brain of each child.

The children whose brains are strengthened by having their mother or other people read to them and talk to them every day from birth...

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A Challenge to the 'Techies' of the World -- Let's Save Our Children

(4) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 6:00 AM

This is a challenge to the technological geniuses of America.

We Americans have twice as many people in jail as any other western country.

When you look at who is in jail, the fact is that most of the people who are prisoners -- 70 percent -- can't read. They...

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Kindergarten Is Too Late -- We Need to Strengthen Brains Earlier Than That

(75) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 8:23 AM

Kindergarten is too late for a lot of children. That is a sad but biologically accurate fact of life. The basic and most important mental development processes that are needed to help each child read, stay in school, and stay out of prison actually happen before the age of five....

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Brains Are Strengthened in the First Three Years of Life

(15) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 4:52 PM

We have more people in prison in this country than any other country in the world. On a per capita basis, we imprison more than three times as many people as any other western country. Only Russia comes close to us in the number of prisoners per 1,000 citizens, and...

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Celebrating Being in a Diversity League of Our Own

(5) Comments | Posted May 26, 2012 | 6:10 PM

The following post is being republished from a weekly Letter to the Employees of Kaiser Permanente.

Dear KP Colleagues,

One of our great strengths at Kaiser Permanente is our diversity.

We have a wonderful level of diversity among our caregivers and staff, and we have a...

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Point 7: Mother Nature Practices Age Discrimination

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2009 | 9:17 AM

Mother Nature clearly practices age discrimination when it comes to health.

U.S. government data for 2006 showed us that the average cost of care for a 20-year-old in America was about $2,600 per year. That same report showed that the average cost of care for a 45-year-old was double...

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Point 6: Connectivity Is Key To Care Improvement

(1) Comments | Posted November 23, 2009 | 11:57 AM

Health care is remarkably unconnected.

The lack of connectivity tools in health care is absolutely stunning.

Health care providers in America have a very hard time connecting and sharing patient information with each other. Most medical records are still sitting in individual paper files locked in metal...

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Point 5: A Double Mandate For Health Works For Europe

(3) Comments | Posted November 16, 2009 | 10:07 AM

How do most European countries achieve universal coverage?

Most people believe that European countries use the Canadian single payer model to achieve universal coverage.

Most people are wrong.

Only Canada uses that model. Canada actually makes private insurance illegal. Most countries in Europe successfully achieve universal insurance coverage using a...

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Point 4: Americans Are Obese And Inert -- Resulting In Huge Health Care Costs

(38) Comments | Posted November 12, 2009 | 10:39 AM

We will spend about 17.6 percent of our GDP on health care expenses this year in America, primarily because we are not healthy in some very key areas.

We have the highest rate of diabetes in the world. We have nearly the highest rate of heart disease.


Because we...

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Point 3: We Need an Orbitz for Health

(2) Comments | Posted November 11, 2009 | 9:27 AM

We need an Orbitz for health.

We need consumers and patients in America to be able to make health care choices in a data-rich environment -- with clear information about care outcomes, caregiver performance, care effectiveness and price.

Health care reform should have a vision of real and meaningful choice.

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Point 2: Care is Inconsistent and Too Often Unsafe

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2009 | 11:31 AM

Multiple studies have shown that health care in America is inconsistent, generally uncoordinated, almost entirely unmeasured, and far too often unsafe.

The death rate can vary by 60 percent for breast cancer surgery between two adjacent hospitals. The death rate can vary by more than 600 percent...

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Point 1: Universal Coverage Is Needed To Reform Care

(1) Comments | Posted October 20, 2009 | 11:13 AM

We can't fix care in America until we have universal coverage. We can't afford universal coverage if we don't fix care. They are a package. They both need to be done. Done well, both universal coverage and care improvement can be huge successes.

Why can't we fix care until...

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