05.10.2011

Presentation Offers Clarity on Healthcare Reform

Community leaders hear from Washington, D.C. healthcare strategist Paul Lee

On a rainy April morning nearly 40 area leaders came together at Monroe’s Ludlow Mansion to hear Paul Lee’s perspective on healthcare reform and legislation.

“The first thought is that healthcare costs too much when we are fine,” Lee said to the crowd, explaining the unique cultural expectations of Americans on healthcare. “The second thought is we don’t care about cost when we are sick.”

Lee, a founding partner of Washington, D.C.-based firm, Strategic Health Care, works as an advocate for clients on matters pending with the U.S. Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other federal agencies. Monroe Clinic hosted the event. 

Mike Sanders, Monroe Clinic President and CEO, spoke before Lee took to the podium. Sanders said Monroe Clinic invited Lee to come to Monroe because, “The enormity of this topic is such that many of us aren’t sure what to expect—employers and employees, families and individuals. How will these changes impact our ability to be successful in business, do our jobs and access quality health care?”

Lee’s hour-long presentation examined many areas of the complex topic, from the partisan atmosphere in D.C. to the rising cost of health care in government spending. He explained the political process moving forward, while taking time to explain insurance exchanges, coverage mandates, elimination of pre-existing conditions, preventive care and “grandfathered” employer insurance plans.

He noted key arguments for and against healthcare reform, clarifying that he was not there “to sell” a certain viewpoint, but rather explain the situation as clearly as possible. Lee also addressed some confusion and misconceptions regarding healthcare reform.

“There is no cut to Medicare beneficiaries. The cuts are to the providers,” Lee said.

Lee used charts to demonstrate the conflict of physician shortage versus an increase in Medicare patients. As the reimbursement rates of Medicare patients are decreasing, the number of physicians limiting or refusing Medicare is rising.

He added healthcare reform does call for certain changes in how health care is delivered, including penalties for hospital-borne illness and failure to meet quality standards. However the current plan does not address medical liability reform. He took time to review the Republican plan to “repeal and replace” the healthcare reform bill which does emphasize liability reform, though he said repel is unlikely to happen under the current government.

At the closing, Sanders shared with optimism that out of conflict, there will be opportunities and solutions coming for health care.

One of the audience members, Terry Hensel, administrator at Pleasant View Nursing Home, found the presentation an enlightening look at the challenges facing our nation’s healthcare system.

“We care for seniors,” Hensel said of her work. “As providers, we need to be proactive.

Anna Schramke, executive director for Green County Development Corporation, felt the presentation helped “clarify some of the challenges we’ll be facing in the future.”

Dan Gartzke, a New Glarus attorney, said he was planning on leavingearly that morning but found Lee so interesting, he changed plans and stayed for the entire event.

“There’s so much I don’t know. He was a tremendous speaker. He declared his background and was objective,” said Gartzke.

Click here to watch the presentation on youtube.