Lobbyist questions health care plan

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 20, 2009

A lobbyist for the state’s hospitals said a health care reformplan currently being discussed tries to do too much too fast andwith a desired outcome that is not guaranteed.

Steve Dickson, president of Stratagem, a Mississippi HospitalAssociation subsidiary that lobbies for that agency, toldBrookhaven Kiwanis Club members Wednesday that he did not believethe current plan will pass the U.S. Senate. He also said he was notfor a public option health plan, an aspect that has drawn muchattention during the debate.

Dickson likened the plan to “trying to turn a 1948 Impala into a2011 Porsche Turbo while flying 90 mph down the interstate” andhaving someone else pay for it. While talking about various aspectsof the measure, he said the critical flaw is that the true fundingmechanism for the overhaul is not known.

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Dickson expected legislation changes as debate continues.

“They are building their house on a foundation of sand,” Dicksonsaid.

Dickson said Medicaid and Medicare programs were flawed fromtheir conception. And they have continued to be fixed with BandAids and bailing wire, he said.

Regarding Medicaid reforms, Dickson expressed support forface-to-face eligibility certification for recipients.

“My problem is it doesn’t go far enough,” Dickson said.

Dickson went on to lament that hospitals are the only componentof the health care system that has to provide care whether a personcan pay or not. He touched on the need for patient accountabilityin the mix when discussing health care reforms.

The health care reform plan being discussed is punitive todoctors and hospitals in the area of re-admissions by denyingpayments when those occur, he said. Dickson cited an example of aperson is treated and released from a hospital, but continues thebad behavior that required care in the first place and has toreturn to the hospital.

Dickson said the government is trying to change human behaviorand health patterns from the governmental level. He seriouslydoubted that could be done with that approach.

“That’s not going to work whether it’s Democrats or Republicansin charge,” he said.