U of M News
State of Tennessee and Universities Will Host Chinese Health Care Delegation University News
For release: May 8, 2008

For press information, contact Robert King, 901-678-2843

A delegation of approximately 50 doctors, administrators, and medical experts from China will visit Tennessee in May for the first ever Tennessee-China Health Care Exchange. The exchange is a result of discussions held by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and officials of the Chinese Ministry of Health last October during Governor Bredesen’s trade mission to China. The visit is sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD), the University of Memphis, Vanderbilt University, and East Tennessee State University.

The delegates will be divided into groups and spend several weeks at each university, studying subjects such as healthcare financing, rural healthcare delivery, healthcare management, and epidemiology. The entire delegation will reconvene in Nashville at the end of May for a symposium on healthcare issues before returning to China.

“This exchange is an important first step in building economic ties with China,” said ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber. “With Tennessee’s vast knowledge base in healthcare and China’s projected six percent annual growth rate in private healthcare spending, there is a strong potential benefit to Tennessee’s economy.”

In Memphis the University of Memphis’s Methodist LeBonheur Center for Healthcare Economics, in concert with various state departments, will discuss the economics of rural healthcare and the American models of insurance to cover such care. 

Leading that discussion will be U of M economics professor Dr. Cyril Chang, director of the Methodist LeBonheur Center.  He will be joined by ECD Commissioner Kisber, Ms. Susan Cooper, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, Dr. Cathy Taylor, assistant commissioner of the state’s Department of Health, and Dr. Wendy Long, medical director of TennCare.

“I’m looking forward to sharing ideas and best practices with the delegates,” said Dr. Chang. “I believe our discussions will be of mutual interest to China and Tennessee.”

China is Tennessee’s third largest trading partner behind Canada and Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2007, Chinese customers purchased more than $1.1 billion worth of Tennessee goods and services. Tennessee’s largest export categories to China include chemicals, scrap metals and paper, computers, and agricultural crops. Currently, China spends approximately $75 billion annually on private healthcare.

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