CCHC's "Consumer Driven Health Care" Seminar

A Summary Report

Citizens' Council on Health Care hosted a very dynamic health care event.

"Consumer Driven Health Care: Public Sector Opportunities", generated a broad array of interested parties. The more than 100 people in attendance represented employers, clinics, hospitals, physicians, health insurers, insurance agents, employee benefits consultants, state officials, union leaders, members of the general public and two legislators involved in health policy (Sen. Becky Lourey (D-Kendrick) and Rep. Tim Wilkin (R-Eagan).

Twila Brase, president of CCHC, who began the event with an overview of the problems in health care, told the audience to look on the bright side: "Americans have a history of using their ingenuity and creativity to solve problems, even very big problems such as health care has become."

Saying that consumer driven health care offers hope for the future, she introduced the speakers: Jim Frogue, Director of the HHS Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, Commissioner Penny Steele of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners in Minnesota, and Greg Scandlen, Director of Galen Institute's Center for Consumer Driven Health Care.

Points/Comments made by speakers in presentation and Q & A include:

JIM FROGUE:

  • Medicaid is a larger, more expensive program than Medicare ($275 billion for 2003).
  • In one study, 47 or 50 orthopedic doctors refused to treat a caller with a broken arm. He had identified himself as being on Medicaid.
  • While Medicaid is "widely unpopular with everyone", there is a 99 percent patient satisfaction rate in its budget neutral consumer-driven Cash and Counseling program - and virtually no fraud.
  • The Bush Medicaid plan gives states more money and more flexibility.
  • Lifestyle is an issue, but it's not always as one thinks: rich white men in Texas were found to be less healthy than poor Hispanics living on the Mexican border.
  • Health insurance can be very inexpensive: a policy with a $5,000 deductible costs only $40 in South Carolina.

COMMISSIONER PENNY STEELE:

  • There is an interrelation between economics and incentives
  • Getting stuck in systems is an impediment to positive change
  • Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) are being used in a Minneapolis charter school, and in June 2003 the Hennepin County Board passed a resolution to Congress asked that public employees be given access to MSAs.
  • Shouldn't implement lifestyle monitoring (fat police) for determining health insurance premiums.

GREG SCANDLEN:

  • There are many problems associated with heavy third party involvement in health care
  • Must return to personal responsibility in health care
  • Discussed MSAs, HRAs, VEBAs, and HSAs
  • Customization of medicine is the future, not standardized, "evidence-based, cookie cutter" medicine.
  • Doctors should be paid at different rates, according to skills, years of practice, etc. Noted that the government-created CPT (payment) code system restricts varied reimbursement.
  • Physicians in SimpleCare (who only take cash) do not use CPT codes, but charge according to amount of time spent with patient.

COMMENTS BY ATTENDEES:

"The room was packed! Medicaid presentation was terrific. I'm very pleased with your work" - PB

 

"I came away from your meeting enthused and up-beat." - RG

 

"Very refreshing" - CM

 

"You discussed what could be instead of what is" - BW

 

"It was a success...timely...good topic" - JD

 

"Gave CCHC great credibility" - JT

 

"I really enjoyed it! - BD

 

"What I liked most was the painting of a picture with encouragement in it."

 

"Very good...Do more!"

 

"Learned a tremendous amount" - MM

 

"Will look at VEBAs as a result, and into the IRS change [HRAs]" - BH

 

"Did some good networking"

 

"Turned my perception on its head...came away with several possible [insurance] alternatives for our group...very valuable!" - TC