Guest Column: Vote Falk, Jellinek, Spohr for hospital board
October 21, 2014
Clearly, those opposed to "affordable" health care are the same people who don't care how much anything costs in Truckee or Tahoe.
Middle class health care patients are the ones being squeezed. The rich don't need to care about the cost of insurance or co-pay. The poor are given free or low cost medical options. They receive medical care, but make no mistake, it is not equal care. Medical care for the poor and the increasing numbers of uninsured is a national problem.
Another national problem is the cost of staying insured for middle class families. Our local hospital board needs to take the high road and find ways to deliver excellent medical care to all our community, regardless of national trends.
What seems reasonable is to expect our local hospital to make health care as affordable as possible for as many as possible. That should be everyone's goal. That should be the expectation of those who reside within our hospital district.
My husband and I have sought care at Reno Diagnostic and Digestive Health, both in Reno, for many years. Both are excellent facilities with medical staff who are just as qualified as any in hospitals. Granted, the facilities do not face the same challenges as hospitals. These facilities provide quality care. They are not hospitals but examples of the direction in which we should move — exceptional care at more affordable cost.
It can easily be argued that their "volume of care" makes them preferred providers. Those who work in health care know that honing one's skills is done by doing procedures and seeing the same health issues day in day out.
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If they can make cost more manageable, we know a new TFHD board can do the same. We do not expect Tahoe Forest Hospital to match their price point. Instead we see their prices as motivational, something to aspire to. We know Tahoe Forest Hospital can move toward more reasonable cost without sacrificing its level or quality of care.
We need to aim for middle ground. We have to insist that the hospital stop marking costs up 300 to 400 percent. Those who say that the level and quality of care will be lost are trying to scare people into accepting status quo. Those same people are disrespecting our medical providers and their passion for healing.
We had quality care before the current administration and can have quality care while heading in a new direction. Our health care providers are dedicated.
Lower costs will have to come with better hospital management and transparency, not by cutting needed services. At this time no one knows how much prices can be lowered. We do know that mark ups of 300 to 400 percent above cost is just plain wrong.
Tahoe Forest Hospital's use has been going down. The decrease is a direct reflection of the inflated cost. Lack of volume drives down quality of care. Facilities that do high volume of care can more easily afford to keep their equipment state of the art. It shouldn't be too difficult to bring down the cost of diagnostic services as volume of service increases. Volume brings down the price of both products and services. That's simply college Business 101.
The candidates who we support are long time members of our community. They know our hospital, our community, and the challenges of our rural setting. They are dedicated and committed to continuing the level and excellence of patient care. They are equally committed to continuing cancer care, expanding needed programs and services, and to bringing cost down where ever possible. They want to listen to and serve our community.
We believe that John Falk, Mark Spohr, and Greg Jellinek are the right candidates for the new board of directors at Tahoe Forest Hospital District.
Jamie Cole Rivara is a Truckee resident.