Republican Lawmaker says Healthcare Reform Being Rushed

Congress is facing a deadline to pass health care reform by its August recess. Republicans are mounting an effort to keep that from happening. Woodlands Congressman Kevin Brady says the measure would close hospitals, cut jobs and take medical decisions out of the hands of patients and doctors. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Congressman Brady was joined by leaders of St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital Health System in the Woodlands the press his concern. He says the healthcare measure Democrats are rushing to pass before the August break would ban expansion of existing and construction of new physician-owned hospitals that didn't have a Medicare-provider number as of January first of this year.

"In other words, the government has chosen a date in the past to put a policy in place that would, in effect, change the rules in the middle of the game and damage our healthcare in the process. This would essentially eliminate any physician owned facilities that obtained their Medicare provider number after January first of this year, or that are currently under construction. All these hospitals have played by the rules and followed the law. None of them have done anything except trying to expand access to care in our fast growing communities."

St. Luke's in the Woodlands prides itself in the commitment it makes to operate with different models of care. Debbie Sukin is CEO:

"If in fact this provision goes through as it is written it will impact with regard to our ability to see Medicare patients. Of course, our concern is that other payors typically follow Medicare. And so from our perspective, again, trying to offer choice to the community, offer choice to our physicians and also choice, most importantly, to our patients. We believe that this will be a limiting factor."

Democratic Congressman Gene Green sits on the Energy Commerce Commitee which is hearing the healthcare reform bill in Washington.

"Our problem in our country and, it's funny my Republican colleagues just want to vote no. We spend more per capita in our country for health care than any other country in the world, and yet we get some of the worst results for the things that easier to cure — chronic diseases, things like that. So that's why we have a great deal of support from both hospitals and doctors to try and deal with this huge number of uninsured we have in this country."

But Congressman Brady thinks waiting after the August break would be a benefit to all involved.

"Allow the public to see it. Allow patients, families, hospitals, doctors to weigh in. At the end of the day, after Labor Day, we'd have a better bill. So, don't rush it through. Give the public sort of, America's right to know what's in this. I think we'd end up with a better bill."

Pat Hernandez, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...