Thursday, May 28, 2009

Health Care Reform - Congresswoman Mazie Hirono

Dateline---Hilo Medical Center, Hilo, HI.

Ms. Hirono, together with 10 individual stakeholders from the health care industry, engaged in discourse at a round table forum. There were about 50 others in attendance comprising the audience who later were able to ask questions and give first hand accounts of their nightmares with current health care inequities.

Congresswoman Hirono was personable and cordial. The preamble to the meeting of course was to laud the president's health care reform agenda stating that a couple of weeks ago during a meeting with health care stakeholders he 'promised to make health care reform his #1 priority for the next 6 months.' When asked what this reform would look like when it was done we were told 'there is no reform right now. 'This is a very bottom up process which will percolate the ideas and suggestions gathered at these round table discussions upwards.'

The consensus of the stakeholders was clear; more efficient/timely and more reasonable reimbursements, move the focus to one of primary care, engage multi professional practitioners more, and promote a preventative culture!

Rick Jackson, president of Hawaii Health Care Plans, said "What won't work is pushing down reimbursement.' He also said, "To focus on fraud makes for great headlines but is in error." Also noted to the congresswoman was his concern the 'feds would impose reform that would rip apart Hawaii's pre-paid health care system.'

When asked if there was reform the government has managed which has been effective and could serve as a model for health care, Ms. Hirono answered, "There is no reform currently." Further queried if there was a model she said 'Canada and Scandinavia'.

The congresswoman summed up the meeting by sharing that she was a 'single payer' proponent and would be heading back to D.C. to work on a bill she hopes will be ready June or July. She acknowledged it was an aggressive goal but felt confident working with Congressmen Henry Waxman and Barney Franks it was doable.

It is noteworthy to mention the group of attendees was diverse. Ms. Hirono was not preaching to the choir -- which seemed all the more apparent as one took note of the folks in lab coats with hospital ID's. However, it was a textbook example of representative government at work!

Keep an eye out for the bill. President Obama wants reform that addresses "Cost, accessibility, quality and choice." Lofty goals, but there is no understating there are no holes barred in this endeavor!

Not sure how single payer health care works? Google 'single payer health care'. Or, contact Congresswoman Mazie Hirono:

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