Cost among key issues in upcoming health care reform

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Capital News Service
LANSING–Business leaders say three issues face Michigan health care reform: cost, cost and cost.
“No matter who is paying for it, if it keeps growing, no one will be able to afford it,” said Rob Fowler, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan.
The state could change how it distributes health care, Fowler said.  Lowering costs doesn’t mean quality should dip.
“What we want is not cheapened health care, but health care run more efficiently,” Fowler said.
Mick Raich, owner of Blissfield’s Vachette Pathology, agrees.  Raich, who has run his small business since 2002, has seen dramatic increases in health care premiums.
“My premiums go up 17 to 25 percent per year and I get the same quality back,” Raich said.  “That would be like a gallon of milk doubling in price every four years, but you’re still getting a gallon of milk.”
Raich says that there has been a definite decline in the quality of health care he can provide his employees, despite increases in premiums.
He says Blue Cross/Blue Shield could improve health care quality if they had fewer employees. By removing workers they could focus premium dollars on improving the health care system as opposed to administrative costs.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield says that using generic drugs as opposed to name brand, and preventing health care fraud, are both ways to help lower premiums.  Such fraud accounts for 3 percent to 10 percent of health care spending, a number they estimate is between $68 billion and $226 billion, according their website.
Also, Blue Cross/Blue Shield notes that of every premium dollar, only nine cents of that dollar go toward administrative costs.
Gov. Rick Snyder will address issues surrounding health care in a special message this fall.  A date has yet to be set.  According to his office, cost will be among issues addressed, although no details have been released.
However, not everyone agrees that cost is the most pressing health care problem.
The Michigan League for Human Services, a human rights organization, says that getting coverage for everyone is more important than just making sure that costs are cut.
While no official statement has been prepared by the Michigan League for Human Services concerning Snyder’s upcoming message, senior policy analyst Jan Hudson, said that she wants to see Snyder continue to work on social programs.
“We want to see support continued for the Medicaid program and the Affordable Care Act,” Hudson said.
The Affordable Care Act was put into effect in 2010 in an attempt to increase health care coverage nationally.  The Act increased insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, as well as helped to provide care to millions of Americans.
Critics say that provisions in the act, such as mandating an increase in total national medical expenditures, have increased health care expenses when a primary concern for many Americans is cost.
Snyder will look to deal with nearly 11 percent of Michigan’s residents without health care coverage, according to 2010 numbers from the Ann Arbor-based Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

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