WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published November 16, 2009, 02:45 PM

Health Care Reform Series: Part 2

One of the groups that will be affected most by health care reform is those who work in the health care industry.

By: Casey Wonnenberg, WDAZ

One of the groups that will be affected most by health care reform is those who work in the health care industry. Not only will their work revolve around reform, but they're patients like you and I as well.

Robert Thompson, Altru’s executive medical director, says, “I think doctors are of course concerned about health care reform, but what they're most concerned about is being able to treat the patients in the best way possible.”

Thompson says most doctors are excited to see legislators looking at changes in healthcare.

“We see a lot of patients who have needs, and we see the current system as not allowing us to meet their needs as patients,” says Thompson.

The public option, or a government health insurance program, is what concerns most people, but those at Altru WDAZ talked with say with the way the bills are phrased now, it's not as scary as most people think.

“Physicians aren't opposed to any part of the public option that would reimburse physicians in ways that are fair so that they can take care of their patients. The public option has become sort of a boogie man out there, but it hasn't been to physicians,” says Thomspon.

One thing Thompson says could be startling though...the government intruding more on the patient-physician relationship.

Thompson says, “We think it's really important for physicians to make medical decisions about their patients.”

Dave Molmen, the CEO of Altru, says, “What we're trying to do is expand coverage, improve quality of care.”

Molmen says reform should also promote choice and competition, eliminate discriminatory insurance practices, and hopefully also try to control the budget for the country too.

Molmen says legislators should look at the healthcare systems in North Dakota and Minnesota.

“Just achieving what has happened in Minnesota and North Dakota would save billions and billions of dollars for the country, save lives, and have higher quality outcomes,” says Molmen.

North Dakota and Minnesota are two of the states with the highest quality care and lowest cost.

Molmen says, “We think a lot of that regional variation in the cost of care has to do with the efficiency and the coordination of the services. In this part of the country, healthcare is done as a team spirit.”

And as long as reform won't negatively impact patients or health care professionals, Altru's position is in favor of it.

Molmen says, “This is one of the most important issues that we have in the country. It affects the health of every single American. It certainly affects the cost in the U.S. It's one of the biggest budget items that we have in the U.S.”

One thing Molmen and Thompson say they were alarmed about earlier was when legislators were thinking about tying the public option to Medicare rates, but that has been eliminated from the bills.

Thompson also says he would like to see malpractice reform.