Common sense solutions heard at John Kitzhaber’s Archimedes conference
October 21, 2009 -- It’s no surprise to anyone that healthcare costs continue to escalate. But when a group of Republican and Democratic legislators met recently, they tossed around several ideas that could make a difference.
Why not assign a coach to help people manage their chronic conditions rather than having them spend countless hours in a doctor’s office, suggested Rep. Jim Thompson (R-Dallas), who spoke at the We Can Do Better Conference organized by the Archimedes Movement on Oct. 16.
“If we can impact 65-75 percent of healthcare dollars and get these people healthier, right there’s the answer where we get a lot of money to treat people who need to see a doctor,” Thompson said.
Such a system works, said Thompson, who’s seen hospitalizations for asthmatic patients drop to zero once they’ve learned how to use an inhaler effectively.
“The system is insidious,” he continued. “If you don’t follow your doctors’ orders, that’s still paid for. We don’t need more physicians but a different kind of symptomatic approach. Right now physicians spend a lot of time babysitting chronic care patients who will never be cured, but need to be managed.”
Thompson also believes it’s essential to gain better control of the federal health dollars flowing into Oregon. “Right now we’re rationing healthcare and lowering compensation to physicians who take public programs. If we go to a system where there’s only one public program and start playing games with physicians, we’ll be in a world of hurt. That would be the worst kind of rationing.”
Acknowledging that some non-profits are abusing the healthcare system to make more money for themselves, Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson (D-Gresham) lauded Kaiser, calling it “a very good efficient system.”
House Bill 2009 has great potential to save billions of dollars, she said, by standardizing and simplifying insurance paperwork, requiring transparency when hospitals build new facilities and giving consumers a greater voice in insurance rate increases.
“I want to make certain the health reform package we passed is implemented correctly,” she said. “The legislature has the final say on some of these things so it’s still a political football.”
The state’s highest priority should be using our dollars on value-based healthcare, said Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-Portland), who reminded the audience that we need greater transparency in the private and public sectors.
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