Guest Column: Comparing Tahoe Forest future to Walmart, Costco | SierraSun.com

Guest Column: Comparing Tahoe Forest future to Walmart, Costco

Randy Hill

"Affordable health care" remains and oxymoron in our nation despite years of debate, tinkering, political posturing and the expenditure of millions of dollars.

The Affordable Care Act, if it is ever successfully implemented, will likely end up being affordable to some and substantially less so for others.

Will it then qualify as affordable? Affordable means different things to different people. Free is affordable. Cheaper than the person down the street is affordable.

The same price as the person down the street is at least no less unaffordable. What happens if the price being offered is just a little more expensive than the person down the street?

At what point do the cheaper prices down the street become most attractive?

When the three Tahoe Forest Hospital District board candidates running as a slate ( Mark Spohr, Greg Jellinek, John Falk) talk about making our health care affordable, what does that mean, and how will they know when major cuts in programs finally result in "affordable health care?"

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Whatever the final outcome, it will be driven by federal mandate and taxes, and not likely a fundamental change in the cost structure.

Over the past several weeks, I have become increasingly concerned about the future of health care in our Tahoe Truckee community.

I fear that the profound changes being proposed by these three candidates to assure "affordable healthcare" will dramatically alter the level and quality of care on which we as a community depend and even expect.

Rare is the organization who has pursued the singular objective of cutting prices without radically changing it whole economic model.

With few exceptions, radical — sometimes devastating — surgery focusing on products, programs, services and overhead (employees) is required.

The result, other than even nominal price changes, is the benefits to the consumer are significantly diminished. That scares me.

Those organizations recognized for their affordability (Costco, Walmart, Target, Reno Diagnostics, GI Consultants) usually offer highly competitive prices. They operate under a high volume, low overhead, no-frills model.

I think we are all aware of their limitations.

The only way such an ambitious, cost-cutting agenda can be considered to assure "affordable health care" is to radically dismantle or eliminate products, programs, services and overhead (employees).

Our phenomenal cancer center has already been targeted for "repurposing."

So, Costco, Walmart, Target, Reno Diagnostics, GI Consultants … and Tahoe Forest Health System?

Radical … and that scares me.

Randy Hill is a Tahoe Vista resident and also a trustee on the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board.