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Health care Q & A: Dr. Phillip Kennedy

Center for Primary Care, CEO

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Q: How big is the problem of the uninsured for your organization now?

Dr. Phillip Kennedy. Center for Primary Care, CEO. Primary Care Association LLC, president.
  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Dr. Phillip Kennedy. Center for Primary Care, CEO. Primary Care Association LLC, president.

A: Being primary care, we can discount things, we can deal with patients, we can provide them access. What we see a lot of times, though, is if they don't have insurance they don't even try to get that access. They may even roll with that problem for a while and then skip over us completely and then show up in their e mergency rooms, where the care is going to be significantly more expensive and cost us all more money. That is probably the bigger thing. If they've got a $1,500 or a $2,500 deductible, that's almost uninsured to us. That is essentially uninsured when they walk into our office.

Q: Will health care reform go forward after this election?

A: There are so many different angles and avenues. It all comes down to what bureaucracy is set up to implement the bill. For us to tell you how it is going to look is just impossible, because it is going to come down to the implementation of it and the bureaucracy of it. The thing that I was most disappointed with in the bill is that I think we missed a lot of opportunity to try to deal with some of the reasons why health care is so expensive in this country. And those are things you really can't legislate. A lot of different things. One of the most expensive things is patient expectation.

Q: How will the relationship between hospitals and physicians change in the future, particularly under the health care reform?

A: I think we are going to continue to see employment of physicians at a rate that we haven't seen probably in 15-20 years. You're already seeing it now. I think a lot of the physicians that are coming out, if you look and see the last two years, most of the physicians that are coming out are being employed. A lot of that is because the practices are so unsure about things like (Medicare cuts) and the changes that are coming. They don't want to spend that capital to bring in new partners. I think that is going to continue. I think you are going to see collaborations between the hospitals.

Q: How will things change for patients?

A: What everybody always asks is how is this going to affect access to care as this thing moves forward. In the health care bill, it talked about raising Medicaid payments to the level of Medicare. Well, the government is broke, the state government is broke, it is certainly easier to allow Medicare to float down, to meet that requirement for Medicaid to match Medicare as opposed to bring Medicare up. That may be the solution for the government that is broke. That is certainly going to affect all of us, on the margin side. When I say that, on the margin side of being able to sustain ourselves.

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Chillen 11/07/10 - 09:44 am
I read every single one of

I read every single one of these Q & A's. Dr. Kennedy is the only one who addresses the funding issue of this healthcare bill and who seems to "get" the fact that the government is broke.

This shiny new healthcare bill seems fantastic, especially for some of these folks since it will help them clean up their bottom profit line, however, who is going to pay for it?
*The unemployed?
*The business owners whose businesses are down by at least 15-20%?
*The so called "rich" folks who make $250-$300K but used to make $450K who are stuck with their home & their lifestyle payments because they can't sell anything?

Eureka! I've got it! We'll just print the money to pay for it or obama could come home & save taxpayers $200 million/day to pay for it. Problem solved.

ameliaf 11/07/10 - 03:00 pm
One of the things the State

One of the things the State of Georgia could do is underwrite medical school costs for those who agree to practice in Georgia - particularly for those going into primary care fields. Or do we already do that? Do we also underwrite training for nurse practitioners?

The medical profession ought to also look at better utilization of nurse practitioners and others who can do very well some of what fully degreed doctors now do. I have had great experience with nurse practitioners for routine physicals and visits for a bad cold/flu.

I think the way in which health care is delivered is going to change. That is, there will be more clinics that employ doctors, specialists, and nurse practitioners and fewer individual doctor's offices - just for economy of scale. The ability to get flu shots at the local Kroger for $25 beats the tar out of getting the shot at the doctors office for $40. I stopped by a local WalGreen to visit a nurse practitioner when I had a throat infection - that visit's base cost was $100; the doctor's office base cost would have been $160. I got a prescription to clear up the infection from the nurse practitioner that did the job just as well as a prescription from the doctor would have done - and it probably was the same drug that the doctor would have prescribed.

Here is the bummer. My out of pocket cost to visit either one would have been the same with the insurance I have. My insurance did not have any incentive for me to choose the lower cost alternative - I just did it because I get so bent out of shape every time my premiums go up because stupidos on the same plan don't do any price shopping. So, I'll do my share.

Will you?

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/07/10 - 03:07 pm
I'm sorry, but forcing the

I'm sorry, but forcing the taxpayers in Georgia to underwrite the entire medical education cost for physician and nursing students who promise to practice in Georgia for a while will not in any way, shape or form lower the cost of medical care. The idea is lunacy.

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