BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Health Care Summit Tackles Costs, Access, Quality

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick assembled 16 people for today’s health care summit on the campus of Kean University.

The discussion revolved around costs, access, quality and complexity.

“The issues are incredibly diverse and I thought I’d bring everyone heree and have a discussion. We did this with cyber security, came up with some legislation. Let’s put everybody in a room and talk about one of the most complicated areas of the law,” Bramnick said.

A home health care executive brought up the issue of low compensation.

“Our biggest issue is with the reimbursement under managed Medicaid. Our reimbursements are close to or below the reimbursements since the year 2000,” said Louise Lindenmeier.

Right next to her, a Chamber of Commerce executive said it’s all too expensive.

“The cost of health care keep rising and it’s harder for a number of businesses to meet their commitments to their employees,” said Matt Malat.

“The central problem I think here is that one person’s cost is another person’s revenue,” said Ward Sanders.

Someone brought up the Bayonne Medical Center emergency room charging $14,000 for four stitches.

The New Jersey Hospital Association rep was asked if he could defend that.

“First of all, it’s a sticker price. No one pays full charges. Second of all, I believe that patient paid $0 for that stitches bill that was widely publicized,” said Neil Eicher.

“It’s not all hospitals. It’s the outliers I’m concerned about. It was a $14,000 charge and you can say the consumer didn’t pay, maybe cause of Help Me Howard was involved, I don’t know. Well, the insurer paid 12. It’s still way too much for the services that are provided,” Sanders said.

A doctor who treats developmentally disabled people complained about pharmacy benefit companies that exclude certain medications.

“I can’t get patients the medication I prescribe because it’s not in formulary. So for example, I was told that I had to have a patient fail on five anti-depressants before they would accept a prescription for the specific medication I recommended for that patient, a medication that the patient was taking when they were assigned to the HMO,” said Ted Kastner.

There is something dizzying about listening to 16 people in the health care field talk about what’s wrong with the system. By and large this session was about who gets paid, who suffers from arbitrary rules and profiteering and how complicated American health care has become.