Reform is Not Pain-free

How about a pain-free life in a society where health care is accessible to all without much government interference? Of course, that is an inconceivable plot, even for an old-fashioned Disney movie.

Pain is not only a part of life, it is part and parcel of healthcare reform. With it, come difficult decisions, amid perpetual, petty bickering you’d expect in an election year.

A little bit of common sense, and a lot less political posturing, would be a good start. Regardless of whether we implement some or all of the 2,700-page so-called “reforms” twisting and turning in Congress and in the courts, hospitals and healthcare professionals will change things.

It is our challenge at NorthBay Healthcare to weather reform with sensible, conscientious and responsible change as we grapple to maintain the funding we need in order to provide compassionate care and advanced medicine close to home.

Medicare is a mess and would have been the logical place to start in 2009 and 2010 when Congress was discussing healthcare reform. Instead we just let the mess get bigger. And futile attempts to concoct a remedy simply created yet another bureaucratic hurdle for hospitals and physicians to overcome.

That’s because the government continues to ratchet down payments for care provided to those it covers. This practice cannot continue forever. Soon Medicare and Medi-Cal recipients will see their benefits and access to care diminish. It’s already happening in California for those covered by Medi-Cal. No one likes the idea of entitlements being changed, particularly we boomers. Will we be rioting in the streets for our Medicare?

Our current system, which forces those with private health insurance to pay for those who are covered by inadequate government programs—and those who have no insurance—will surely collapse. Therefore, with or without “Obamacare,” for NorthBay Healthcare to survive, we must achieve efficiencies and invent new strategies to streamline services.

And we must do it without sacrificing quality of care. There will be pain involved, that much is true. But we hope that in the end, changes result in a more efficient, competent system, not just at NorthBay Healthcare, but at hospitals around the country.

Gary Passama
President and Chief Executive Officer

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