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|CEO: Future grim for healthcare in America|
The healthcare system in the United States is broken, and measures must be taken to fix it, according to St. Francis Medical Center's president and CEO.
Louis Bremer Jr. said St. Francis Medical Center officials believe healthcare reform is necessary.
"The system is badly broken and headed down the road of bankruptcy," Bremer said.
Each year the federal government conducts estimates of the stability of the healthcare program for the elderly, or Medicare, Bremer said. One year ago, the federal government estimated the program would go bankrupt in 2019.
"They just did their annual estimate and they are now projecting it will go bankrupt in 2017," Bremer said. "We've seen that change in one year. And, they said if the economy does not improve, it will go bankrupt in 2014."
"Financially, the system is broken," Bremer continued. "The federal government is struggling with it. State governments everywhere are struggling with it, and employers are struggling with it. Combine that with the fact that there are about 48 million in this country who have no health care coverage at all.
"The system needs to be fixed; it needs to be reformed. Yet, nobody really knows what the details will look like right now.
"We have a new president who says healthcare reform is one of his highest priorities. He's really pushing Congress to get their work done on a healthcare reform package sometime in August and he wants to sign it by the first of October."
However, Bremer said no one knows if President Obama's proposal will be a "true reform of the system" or a system that decides "it will pay everybody less money."
"If they pay everybody less money, the system will just melt down," Bremer said. "At some point, providers cannot stay in business if they are not paid an adequate amount of money. You wouldn't have enough money to turn the lights on."
Bremer said the healthcare system mainly focuses on treating illnesses at this time, but more attention has to be directed at preventing illnesses.
"Or, if the illness occurs, how can we better manage that illness early on," Bremer explained. "For example, if people have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugars, we must pick that up early on and then work to treat those folks.
"That's what we're pushing for - a system that focuses on prevention, disease management, doing the right things rather than a system that right now, as it is designed, drives up health care cost."
Bremer aid the way healthcare providers make money today is to do more, not less. So, the more surgeries a surgeon does, the more he or she will make.
"We need to get away from that kind of system," he said.
While healthcare reform has been talked about for decades, Bremer believes something will finally be done about it.
"It's a top priority for the president and his party controls Congress, so there's a high likelihood that something will be done," Bremer said. "The question is: what is it and how will it affect everyone?"
"We're hopeful whatever the endgame is relative to healthcare reform will be positive," he said. "We certainly don't want to make the situation worse than it is. There's just no business in the world that can continue for very long if their revenues are less than their expenses."
"There is this perception that healthcare providers are just filthy rich, and we're making tons of money, and that's not the case at all," Bremer added.
St. Francis officials anticipate the hospital will lose up to $6 million on operations this year. Last year, St. Francis lost about that much money, Bremer said.