Local physicians on healthcare reform

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The heated healthcare debate continues to gain steam on Capitol Hill with House democrats pushing a huge reform measure. While representatives and senators across party lines have voiced their opinions on the sweeping changes, how do local physicians feel about the proposals?  7News finds out with the immediate past president of the Calcasieu Parish Medical Society and current practicing physician, Dr. John Noble.

With no republican support, democrats on a key Senate committee have pushed through a sweeping healthcare reform plan.  Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) says, "Healthcare coverage that is available, undeniable and affordable."  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says, "There's not one provision in this bill that reduces the cost of healthcare in America."

Across the aisle, opinions differ on the massive proposed changes. While consumers want to know what's in it for them, those working in healthcare have concerns of their own with the 1,000 page plan.  Dr. John Noble says, "There's going to be significant waste, significant wait times, significant rationing, bureaucrats telling us how to practice medicine and it's going to be based on Medicare, which is already a dismal failure."

Dr. Noble says changes need to be made, but with the current recession, reworking the entire foundation of healthcare in America is a bad idea.  "This is a ridiculous attempt being performed for political reasons and has nothing to do with an emergency situation," says Dr. Noble, "we've been dealing with this problem for 40 years, there is no reason that anybody, any politician needs to act immediately on this."

On the other hand, those pushing the plan say now's the time.  Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) says, "This legislation is landmark legislation."  President Barack Obama has said publicly, "The best way to start bringing down deficits is to get control of our healthcare costs which is why we need reform!"

The plans include a government-run program to compete with private insurers. Plus, a mandate requiring all Americans get coverage and that big employers provide insurance to workers. While Dr. Noble says he agrees with a need for insurance reform, he says a huge decrease in healthcare spending could come about with federal liability reform.  "There's no question that we spend billions and billions and billions of dollars each year on defensive medicine," says Dr. Noble, "because so many physicians and other healthcare providers fear the risk of lawsuits."

So as the debate wages on at Capitol Hill, those back home - who see the effects of an overwhelmed health system, hope that changes are made in the interest of all - consumers and healthcare providers.

The healthcare proposals that President Obama wants passed by the fall are part of the 10-year, one trillion dollar reform plan put forward by democratic leaders.

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