Louisville doctors, Humana react to healthcare bill

By Janelle MacDonald
Mar 22, 2010

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The sweeping reform of the nation's health care system has passed the House of Representatives and is ready for President Obama to sign into law. In Kentuckiana, reaction from doctors is mixed. Supporters showed a long list of healthcare professional organizations that backed the bill, but some doctors fear what it will do to their business and profession. Others say this bill didn't go far enough to address the problems.

Dr. Adewale Troutman, director of Louisville Metro Health & Wellness, said there were obvious problems with the healthcare system as it stood.

"People are dying at unacceptably high rates due to the fact they don't have health insurance," said Troutman.

With coverage to 30 million more Americans, Troutman sees a lot of things to like in the newly passed healthcare reform bill.

"Removing a cap for a lifetime cap on what insurance money you spend, the preexisting condition piece is extremely important, not being able to drop somebody from coverage because now they've got something that costs money," Troutman said.

But to call it comprehensive healthcare reform, Troutman said, "I think that the bill that was passed is a step in the right direction but we have a long, long, long way to go to turn this ship around so that we have equity, health equity for all populations."

His former colleague, now retired Dr. Garrett Adams, puts it even more bluntly. According to Adams, it's, "aspirin for cancer."

Adams says the healthcare reform bill as passed won't do anything to control costs.

"The bills will continue to go up," said Adams. "The premiums will have to go up, there's no way they won't go up."

As for the mandates for insurance coverage, Adams said, "people will buy the least expensive coverage that they can get and it's not going to be enough. It's skimpy coverage."

In addition, Adams agrees with critics who say the new bill takes some healthcare decisions out of the hands of doctors and places it in the hands of the government.

"There are so many controls," Adams said. "It's very unfriendly, I think to physicians ... It's awkward, it's complicated."

Adams is a member of Physicians for a National Healthcare Program, which advocates for getting rid of the private, for-profit, insurance company system all together. Troutman says he is also in favor of a not-for-profit system. However, here in Louisville, a lot of jobs depend on the insurance industry.

Jim Turner, a spokesperson for Louisville-based Humana, said the bill could be good for the company because requiring everyone to get health insurance will add customers to the market and that could help Humana.

Turner also said the company is worried because the bill doesn't do much to reduce healthcare costs and the cost of not having insurance - a government imposed penalty - isn't strict enough.

"People could just say, 'I'm not going to pay my fair share of premium,'" Turner said. "They could say, 'I'm going to wait until I get sick, pay an extremely modest penalty, and then I'll sign up,' and if that does come to pass, that will actually destroy the whole basis of insurance."

Turner also told us the bill will hurt the young and old more than others by putting new taxes on the young, and reducing Medicare advantage payouts for the elderly.

Information for this story also provided by Ryan Nash.

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