PRESS RELEASE: Medical Conference Addresses Deep Dysfunctions Within Health Care System

May 12th, 2017

5th Annual Lown Conference combines research and social action in effort to create a health care system that is patient-centered, universal, and cost-effective

Boston, MA—“Health is not a market commodity,” says Jeffrey Sachs, world-renowned economist and keynote speaker at the 5th annual Lown Institute Conference, which took place May 5-7 at the Boston Marriott Quincy.

In his speech, Sachs explained that the “free market” will not and cannot resolve America’s wide-ranging health care problems: high costs, lack of access, and rising mortality rates among significant parts of the US population. America’s health marketplace is overly monopolized, and fails to address the multiple challenges of health promotion, disease prevention, and health equity. Sachs reviewed the international comparative experience to highlight needed reforms in U.S. health care delivery.

“We’ve known for years that we spend more per capita on health care than any other Western democracy and have worse health outcomes,” said Dr. Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Institute. “It’s time to take back our health care system from the moneyed interests that have devalued the art of healing.”

The Lown Institute conference brought together 250 clinicians, researchers, medical students, policymakers, patients, and community activists determined to improve the American health care system. The three-day conference included a research symposium exploring drivers of overuse, underuse and obstacles to patient-centered care; an examination of the corruption and harm that comes from for-profit companies capturing health care and regulatory institutions; and the national convention for the Right Care Alliance.

In addition to Jeffrey Sachs, keynote speakers at this year’s conference included:

Patricia Gabow, MD, former CEO of Denver Health and Hospital Administration, a model safety-net hospital, who discussed her reservations regarding making hospitals the locus of efforts to address poverty and population health;

Elisabeth Rosenthal, executive editor of Kaiser Health News and author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business, who focused on how the business needs of medicine came to dominate the system and what must be done to take back health care for patients; and

Charles van der Horst, MD, an infectious disease specialist, HIV researcher, and one of the organizers of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, who inspired his audience to take up the interests of their patients beyond the doctor’s office.

Sabine Kleinert, senior executive editor of The Lancet, led a panel discussion marking publication in January 2017 of the “Right Care Series” issue, which focuses on the problem of overuse and underuse of medical care, both of which contribute to the high costs and poor outcomes in health care systems around the world.

On the final day of the conference, The Right Care Alliance (RCA) met for its annual convention, where it established a national steering committee and began developing a national organizing strategy. RCA is an emerging movement of doctors, nurses, medical students, patients and community activists determined to return health care to its humanitarian ideals. Noting that neither patients nor doctors are happy with the current system, Shannon Brownlee, a leader of the Right Care Alliance, said, “We want to light a fire under health care professionals and get them engaged with community activists across the country to demand a health system that puts patients first.”


About the Lown Institute: Founded by world-renowned cardiologist and humanitarian Bernard Lown, the Lown Institute is exposing the failures of the U.S. health care system and advancing a vision that supports universal access to cost-effective, patient-centered care.

The conference is generously supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, California Healthcare Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and others. Special thanks to the platinum level sponsor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, for its continuing support. The views expressed at the conference do not necessarily reflect the views of funders.

For further information, contact:
Karen Kahn,,