Audience, doctors call for slower approach to reform

By GARY HARMON
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More than 200 people laughed Saturday when a Grand Junction neurosurgeon joked about the “magical thinking” of President Obama in his health care reform proposal.

The audience burst into applause, though, when Dr. Larry Tice questioned whether national leaders would be treated under the same single-payer health care system that the rest of the country would have.

“Would (Obama) be willing to go on it with Congress?” Tice asked aloud.

Tice and another Grand Junction family practitioner, Dr. Gregory Doyle, spoke along with Pete Waller, president and founder of First National Bank of the Rockies, during a rally sponsored by the Campaign for Responsible Health Care Reform of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Participants in the 11:30 a.m. rally signed petitions calling for a slower approach to reform.

The rally in front of the old Mesa County Courthouse started the Colorado campaign by the U.S. chamber.

Doyle said he read the 1,017-page House health care-reform measure and found some elements that seemed on the surface to be useful, but also some powerful drawbacks.

High among them, he said, was the similarity of the proposal to the existing system that has frequently sparked frustration, especially in terms of paperwork.

Physicians who now submit paperwork for payment under Medicare have to redo their work entirely if they code it incorrectly.

“This looks like Medicare plus,” Doyle said.

A 26-member committee and the U.S. surgeon general would “dictate benefits for the entire nation,” Doyle said. Elements of the reform plan also could reduce physicians’ income, he said.

Tice sounded a chord similar to that of reform proponent Dr. Mike Pramenko of Grand Junction, who has called for Obama to look more closely at the Grand Junction system, which relies on regional nonprofits to coordinate coverage and care.

Reform resulting in a single-payer system, Tice said, would eliminate free choice and personal responsibility for patients. The discovery of new drugs could be stifled along with innovation in surgical techniques and other approaches to treatment, he said.

The regulations, prohibitively expensive premiums and higher taxes and other requirements of the congressional proposal simply don’t work, Waller said.

“That dog,” he said, “just won’t hunt.”


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