August 4, 2009

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Hall, Hoyer, pitch health reform to skeptical business people

Hoyer, left, and Hall

POUGHKEEPSIE - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. John Hall (D-NY) repeatedly used one phrase in common: "Get it right". That was to an invited roundtable of St. Francis Hospital officials, chamber of commerce officials, business owners and citizens.

The issue is the push to get health care reform through congress.

"Dispelling myths" was part of the objective of the forum, said Hoyer. If you are a senior, with end of life concerns, you will still be able to plan for tha, he promised.

"If you like what you have, you can keep it", Hall said.

The roundtable included a parent erroneously denied reimbursements for medication to treat her children, and Walter Graschagen, owner of Sea Tow Central Hudson in Cold Spring, who said he cannot afford to provide coverage for his employees.

Garschagen - looking for solutions

Hoyer said that is what health care reform is all about.

“His employees will have an option; either go to the exchange and if they are not making enough money, get some help to afford the insurance which will be offered by the private sector, or, go to the public option, if that suits him or her better.  They’ll have an option and he’ll have his employees covered.”

Officials of three chambers of commerce participated, including Ann Meagher, president of the Greater Southern Dutchess Chamber of Commerce.  She was skeptical but appreciated the willingness of Hall, in particular, to listen to local concerns about the impact she and other chamber representatives said this could have, financially, on small business. 

Meagher is not, however, convinced that ‘getting it right’ is the top priority.

“I think at this point, there is a mad dash to get something done”, she said.  “I do believe that Congressman Hall wants to get it right and we’re going to do our best to try to work with him so that we get the best outcome possible.”

Saint Francis Hospital CEO Bob Savage said any reform that gets rid of the unbelievable volume of regulation and paperwork will be better than what we have now.

Savage said studies show up to 25 percent of a hospital’s cost can come from compliance with regulations.

“Reduce the ridiculous amount of regulation that hospitals and all providers face, now, so that the world is not so complicated.”

That’s a small piece in a large puzzle.  Hoyer and Hall said “getting it right” includes looking at the total picture, including placing more focus on wellness care. 

“Until we focus on outcomes, our health care system will continue to be more expensive and not as successful as some other health care systems” Hoyer said, but with a caveat.  He noted this will not be a copy of the Canadian or British systems, often cited by conservative critics of any government-run health plan, as examples of systems that do not work. 


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