Bend health care leaders discuss pulse of Obamacare
Updated On: Sep 19 2013 12:07:50 PM CDT
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said Wednesday in Bend he continues to hear concerns about the health care changes all across our state.
But now that it's law, he wants some answers to what Congress can do to make it right.
As Walden took command of a new telemedicine robot at St. Charles on Wednesday morning, he was also interested in hearing from health officials about President Obama's new health care law.
"I stood next to the printing of the regulations implementing the health care law, and there are 20,000 pages," Walden said.
Walden said he's heard from business leaders in our state concerned about having to reduce employee hours to help offset impending insurance rate hikes.
"I hear some employers are cutting people back to 29 1/2 hours, so they don't count as full-time employees," Walden said. "That means people that are working are going to have to get two part-time jobs and still have no benefits."
BendBroadband CEO Amy Tykeson said next year, the company's health insurance rates will go up 5 percent and that's just for the taxes it will have to pay.
"When I start looking at some of the pressures we are facing," Tykeson said, "my concern is that the employers that have over 50 employees will be the ones who are underwriting a lot more of these costs, because it is going to have to come from someplace."
Members of the Central Oregon Health Council, the High Desert's coordinated care organization, told Walden the group is unique.
"Oregon being on the vanguard of health care reform forever is really in the lead in terms of CCO's," Walden said. "Some like it, some don't."
Gov. John Kitzhaber received $1.9 billion from the Obama administration to form the COO, in a bid to control costs.
"I hope it all works and you stay on track and all that because this notion that the state of Oregon would be able to come back and say, 'Hey, it didn't work -- would you forgive us the $1.9 (billion)?' is going to be a complete non-starter," Walden said.
Robin Henderson, director of behavioral health services at St. Charles-Bend, told Walden about the CCO's early success: "When we started the six clinics, where we put behavioral health in primary care ... those six clinics, within months of getting their providers, said, 'You are never taking them out again.'"
But at this point, with many changes to come, man are still left with more questions than answers.
"You are going to have to employ more people to coordinate the system, which I like the idea about it, but I can't say how that is going to reduce cost," said Mike Henderson, an internist.
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