Texas healthcare executives mixed reaction on reform - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/7/10

Texas healthcare executives mixed reaction on reform while in Lubbock

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By James Clark | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - KCBD NewsChannel 11 told you on Thursday that some of the most powerful people in Texas healthcare spent the day in Lubbock.  We'd like to follow up with some of their thoughts on the controversial healthcare reforms now proposed in Congress.  The Lubbock Area Health Underwrites Association held a symposium at the Holiday Inn Towers.

Ralph Holmes, President of Aetna's Southwest Region sees potential in the proposed reforms.

"I think about 40% of the uninsured are between the ages of 18 and 45," Holmes says. 

"That's important premium dollars to stabilize the system, and the risk pool, because the way healthcare is financed the people who are young like you are finance the people who are older like me and their healthcare costs.  So we need to get everyone covered.  That's a critical element."

Technology can help too, Holmes says.  He says computerized tracking can now tell doctors when they're care is not meeting the highest quality or if it's not cost efficient.

Holmes attitude is not like that of David Teusher, M.D.from Beaumont, who represented the Texas Medical Association at Thursday's symposium in Lubbock. 

"Well, we don't like bills being debated," says Teusher. 

"We think they need to start all over.  We believe it needs to be more patient centric, that it needs to control costs and it needs to put doctors and patients together before insurance executives, government bureaucrats and CEOs. 

But Teusher seems to think there's time to improve healthcare reform proposals. 

"And there's an opportunity here.  We know we need reforms. But the wrong prescription; the wrong medicine is not going to cure what ails our patients."

Darren Rodgers, President Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, says "I think all the health plans in Texas support health care reform that will bring down cost and improve access to care and improve the quality of care."  But Rodgers also cautions,  "We have some concerns about what's being done and if those goals of increasing access, increasing quality, and lowering costs will actually happen."

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