Providers react to health care bill - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Providers react to health care bill

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by Meg Bonacorsi

WAUSAU, STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -- Providers in our area have their own stance on the bill.  Leaders we talked to pointed out the positives and negatives.

Aspirus CFO Sidney Sczygelski says, "My thoughts were this is inevitable or was inevitable at some point because the current health care system was really not sustainable long term."

But what do health care providers think about the bill that passed?

St. Michael's Hospital President Jeff Martin says, "It deals with the people that are uninsured. And across the country as you know that's a huge problem.  In Wisconsin fortunately it's not quite as similar of a problem but nonetheless, it's a very positive outcome."

But providers also forsee problems.

Sczygelski says, "There will be wealthier Americans that will need to pay higher taxes. There will be taxes on Cadillac insurance plans. There will be more people seeking healthcare."

That could mean a shortage in doctors.  However providers are happy that the bill plans to reimburse them based on performance, not the number of patients they treat.

Sczygelski says, "I think we should be paid based on quality as well as cost effectiveness.  That value equation does come through in the legislation."

The bill is also supposed to fix the Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement disparities between states.  Providers here say that's a good thing.

Martin says, "Medicare has historically reimbursed Wisconsin at a very low level.  We've ranked anywhere between 45th and 50th between all the states."

But providers are still concerned about getting what's owed to them.  Because when it comes to funding the health care bill, the majority of the money will come from Medicare and Medicaid cuts.

Martin says, "We really don't get reimbursed our total cost now.  So further cuts in that reimbursement makes it very difficult to see how we will be able to continue to provide the level of services that we have so far."

The health care bill is nearly 3,000 pages long.  And most of it won't be fully implemented until 2014.

So at this point, health care providers say they're still unsure about the specific impact it will have on the system.

Online Reporter: Meg Bonacorsi

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