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Health leaders predict changes

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Whatever happens to the leadership of Congress in today's election, health care changes will come to Augusta simply because they must, Augusta health leaders said Monday.

Jim Cruickshank, CEO of Trinity Hospital of Augusta; Jim Davis, CEO of University Health Care System; Dr. Jacqueline Fincher, managing partner for McDuffie Medical Associates and Governor-elect of the American College of Physicians, Georgia Chapter; Dr. Ricardo Azziz, CEO of MCG Health System and president of the Medical College of Georgia; C. Shayne George, CEO of Doctors Hospital; and Dr. Phillip Kennedy, CEO of Center for Primary Care and President of the Primary Care Association LLC (Left to right) attend the Augusta Chronicle roundtable on health care reform in Augusta Monday afternoon.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Jim Cruickshank, CEO of Trinity Hospital of Augusta; Jim Davis, CEO of University Health Care System; Dr. Jacqueline Fincher, managing partner for McDuffie Medical Associates and Governor-elect of the American College of Physicians, Georgia Chapter; Dr. Ricardo Azziz, CEO of MCG Health System and president of the Medical College of Georgia; C. Shayne George, CEO of Doctors Hospital; and Dr. Phillip Kennedy, CEO of Center for Primary Care and President of the Primary Care Association LLC (Left to right) attend the Augusta Chronicle roundtable on health care reform in Augusta Monday afternoon.

In a roundtable discussion on health care reform held by The Augusta Chronicle on the eve of an important election, Augusta hospital CEOs and physician leaders said the current system and the cost of treating the large number of uninsured can't continue.

Though there are misgivings and questions about aspects of the Patient Protection and Afford- able Care Act passed this year, they think repealing it will be difficult and eliminating key parts while retaining others could make it worse.

Even places where the problem of treating the uninsured has historically not been a major problem are seeing a greater burden because of the economic downturn, said Jim Cruickshank, the CEO of Trinity Hospital of Augusta.

"You've got more folks out there that are not working, unemployed, their COBRA benefits have run out, unemployment has run out and they just don't have the wherewithal, the financial means to pay for that bill after they've incurred it," he said.

"We see probably double the charity and uninsured that we've seen over the past couple of years," said C. Shayne George, the CEO of Doctors Hospital. "Definitely, that is an indicator, I think, of the economy."

Even those with health insurance sometimes have deductibles as high as $2,500, which can make collecting difficult for a physician office, said Dr. Phillip Kennedy, the CEO of the Center for Primary Care and the president of the Primary Care Association.

"That is essentially uninsured when they walk into our office," he said.

Overall, the cost of treating the uninsured, who might have put off preventive care until the problem is worse and more expensive to treat, is affecting everyone, said Dr. Ricardo Azziz, the president of Medical College of Georgia and the CEO of MCG Health System.

"Regardless of who wins or loses (today), that looming problem of increasing health care burden, increasing number of uninsured that are helping to drive the cost of health care for all of us, that will have to be addressed," he said. "And neither party will be able to turn back and not face that problem."

Despite calls for repeal, it seems unlikely, at least until after the next presidential election, said Dr. Jacqueline Fincher, of McDuffie Medical Associates in Thomson and the governor-elect of the Georgia chapter of the American College of Physicians.

"You can't get past a veto from the president," she said. "But they could defund it. And I think that's the concern because obviously there are many good things that were in the bill. There was also a lot of other things that I think many of us around this table were concerned about."

If the bill goes away, hospitals are still stuck with $155 billion in cuts that will still be in place, said Jim Davis, the CEO of University Hospital.

"If we continue to have growing uninsured, still have the $155 billion in cuts, it is going to put tremendous strain on the hospitals in the country to continue to provide care," he said. "There's a lot at stake there."

Coming Sunday

We have a more in-depth conversation with Augusta hospital CEOs and physician leaders and advocates about the uninsured, the difficulty of changing the health care reform law and what health care reform will look like in Augusta, including what is happening now.

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TruthJusticeFaithHope
218
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TruthJusticeFaithHope 11/02/10 - 04:32 am
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Build another building, or a

Build another building, or a palace to yourselves. Give yourselves another raise... from $500,000 to $700,000. You whining, crying babies. As our society gets closer and closer to self destruction... survival of the fittest will kick in... and none of these whiners will survive. Open a clinic and actually help someone. Get out of your board room and see how the average person lives.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 11/02/10 - 05:46 am
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The uninsured is a problem

The uninsured is a problem but there also are problems with the insured, insurance companies look for every reason possible to deny claims. As a certified biller of medical claims for many years I have never had to appeal as many valid claims as I do now. Many people think doctors get the amount billed but that is not the case. We enter a contractual agreement for what we will accept for the charge. Many years of schooling are involved to become a Doctor and they need to be reimbursed for their time invested in obtaining this goal.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 11/02/10 - 05:46 am
0
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The uninsured is a problem

The uninsured is a problem but there also are problems with the insured, insurance companies look for every reason possible to deny claims. As a certified biller of medical claims for many years I have never had to appeal as many valid claims as I do now. Many people think doctors get the amount billed but that is not the case. We enter a contractual agreement for what we will accept for the charge. Many years of schooling are involved to become a Doctor and they need to be reimbursed for their time invested in obtaining this goal.

JRE
62
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JRE 11/02/10 - 07:17 am
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Very good article and I look

Very good article and I look forward to the more in-depth article coming Sunday. I hope you will include the perspective of employers in this issue. Employers and in particular small business employers are a key to this as employer based policies account for 90% of the private insurance policies in the market. Employers are the ones dealing with the decisions on carrying insurance and its costs and deductibles. It is a very complicated problem that needs the input and perspective of those providing the health care as well as the employers that are funding the insurance for the health care.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 11/02/10 - 07:18 am
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Socialism is the only

Socialism is the only answer?
What a crock!
So much of this is related to the cloward/piven approach to the economy used by this leftist party in control of communications in this country and the current congress. Has the level of government education really been so low for so long as to make this difficult for the writter of this article (hiding behind the name "staff") to understand? Is it really necessary to misinform the general public just to support this approach?
Being herded into a pen and driven from one point to another isn't the only way to handle this situation.
Replace the socialist left and let capitalism loose once more!
Health care will improve drastically and "intelligent" improvements can then be made.
obamacare is a disaster that needs to be addressed immediately.

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 11/02/10 - 08:00 am
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Capitalism was loose until

Capitalism was loose until the Health Care Reform Act was passed. What did it bring? Denial of coverage, dropping people because they were risk to the company, and raising rates along with lowering coverage to insure that the stockholders got a good dividend. Capitaism is great for business, not so smart for health care. Not everyone is insured, so the doctors only want insured folks because they know they are going to get paid for sure. The uninsured are going to get care the best way they can and it is raising rates at hospitals everywhere to cover their losses. Uninsured people are like shoplifters, because they are make us pay higher health costs to cover the hospitals. But I am probably in wrong because most of everyone here is in support of Economic Darwinism where if you cant pay, you just die, so you can save your money.

I'd rather support universal health care to make sure Americans stay healthy, than have my tax money go all over the world to support people who are trying kill our soldiers overseas.........

happychimer
17476
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happychimer 11/02/10 - 09:49 am
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I agree with 8:00 am.

I agree with 8:00 am.

dani
12
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dani 11/02/10 - 10:17 am
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After is all is said and

After is all is said and done, if our leaders had concentrated on the jobless situation this problem would not be so severe.
All the other programs could have been put on hold until the economy got better and people got back to work.
Of course there are more folks with no insurance, but if they had jobs, they could afford insurance, more people with insurance would mean lower rates, thus would not need free health-care.
Ramming the stimulus programs and Obama care through without considering the economy left not only insurance companies but medical facilities and most important, the citizens in a dire situation.

Scratch
147
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Scratch 11/02/10 - 10:53 am
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Sane1, I take issue with much

Sane1, I take issue with much of what you said. I've been in the healthcare business for over 40 years and have yet to see a health insurance company actually provide one nickel's worth of care. Any system based on a third party that simply pays for care rendered will increase the cost of that care. The main problem with this law is that it actually increases the reliance of the entire system on health insurance companies and on employer-based premiums. True reform, IMO, would go in the opposite direction, that is to limit health insurance as much as possible. If patients paid for routine care at time of service and were paid by employers instead of being given health benefits, then providers could provide the services at much reduced cost. Providers would not have to deal with insurers. Health insurance would be limited to only instances of hospitalization or major surgery. Obviously there is much more that could be done, but space limits me.

Sweet son
10341
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Sweet son 11/02/10 - 12:51 pm
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Looks like a lot of hot air

Looks like a lot of hot air and salaries in one room!!! Probably need to go to Lake Oconee for a retreat.

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 11/02/10 - 12:54 pm
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Wonderful point, Scratch, due

Wonderful point, Scratch, due noted! I do totally agree with your point of being rid of the middle man, but the general public has been put in fear of the government (that they entrusted to elect) so much, that a government run plan is almost to far fetched to mention.

dani
12
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dani 11/02/10 - 02:52 pm
0
0
I dislike the cost of medical

I dislike the cost of medical insurance as much as anyone. My premiums went up 2 months ago and I am still stewing.
But..then I look at the charges for my medical care and it is far, far more than what I pay out. I couldn't possibly afford to pay the full amount. I need insurance coverage. So, what do I do. I pay the additional premium amount and complain.

Now car insurance...I sometimes wonder how much those premiums would cost if we made several claims a year against them. It doesn't bear thinking about. Of course, they would cancel you after one or two claims so you would be shopping for a new carrier.

soldout
1280
Points
soldout 11/02/10 - 04:18 pm
0
0
This is a problem with an

This is a problem with an answer already out there but the answer doesn't make big money so it is suppressed. Alternative, or as I like to call it, advanced care, can handle 80% of all medical needs at very little cost. The body is always trying to make itself well and just needs a little help and not more drugs. Once you see alternative care in action, going to a regular doctor's office is like going backwards 50 years. Read the blue zone and see what those living to over a 100 are doing. Exercise, water, sunshine (without sunscreen), organic foods, eating out rarely, no flu shots, less stress, working hard physically, and very little TV will do amazing things for your health. NAET can handle most things that come up and for mental situations and stress EFT is excellent. The watching less TV causes you not to know all the new diseases you are supposed to be concerned about. Bottom line; health is a service but also a business and healthy folks are bad for business.

dani
12
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dani 11/02/10 - 09:56 pm
0
0
soldout. I have been told

soldout. I have been told that doctors will kill you, and that might be so.

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 11/02/10 - 10:23 pm
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A Harvard study estimates

A Harvard study estimates nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance. And you can expect that number to increase as the Great Recession continues.

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/september/harvard_study_finds_.php

Fiat_Lux
15369
Points
Fiat_Lux 11/02/10 - 11:59 pm
0
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The easy solutions would have

The easy solutions would have been to give insurance companies the ability to sell policies across state lines, and torte reform.

That latter course of action would have reformed the way medicine is being practiced so as to reduce huge waste and unnecessary testing and intervention that have resulted from practicing medicine defensively. It still could revolutionize the cost of health care in the United States, if the lawyers and lobbyists could be muzzled.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/03/10 - 10:25 am
0
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A lot gets said about tort

A lot gets said about tort reform. That means giving medical practitioners immunity and denying victims due process of law. Georgia passed such a bill and the court threw it out.

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202446646682

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