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Kevin Dahill Pres & CEO Nassau Suffolk Hosp Coop
August 24, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT
This morning’s speaker Kevin Dahill, President and CEO of Nassau Suffolk
Hospital Council spoke about a topic that is more and more a concern of all of
us, the cost of healthcare. In the past six years the health care system has
left out 5 million more people. The total of documented uninsureds is 45
million. The actual number is believed to be much higher.
Do these people go without care? No! We don’t do that in this country, we accept
the indigent and otherwise uninsured in our hospitals. The problem is that this
situation creates sicker patients among the uninsured than the insured
population. The cost of caring for these people is much higher than it may have
been if they had ordinary access to care. Moreover that cost must be borne by
those that are insured. It isn’t difficult to see that such a system is destined
to collapse on itself.
Mr Dahill pointed out another problem that comes in the form of how medical
institutions are reimbursed. As an example, a simple case of pneumonia will be
easily corrected and reimbursement is minimal. The hospital is likely to lose
money on such an admission. On the other hand interventional procedures are
likely to be a money maker for the hospital. In his words, "We don’t have a
healthcare system, we have sick care system. There is little or no incentives
for the long term health of our citizens"(not an exact quote).
Dahill advocates that our systems for healthcare be more transparent, and
consumer friendly. He also believes that the present delivery system is failing
us and some form of universal healthcare must be devised. I reminded him that
one of the smallest states in the union, Vermont, now has universal healthcare.
I asked Kevin if it was working. According to Dahill, it is. He went on to say
that he has looked at the efforts of other states and they are less committed
and therefore are doing less well. His example here was Massachusetts.
Dahill suggested that we challenge every presidential candidate, Republican or
Democrat on the issue of universal healthcare. The model we now have according
to Dahill is not sustainable.
We also discussed the awards being made in malpractice suits, and the impact on
costs. We suggested that a medical malpractice board similar to a workers
compensation board might work. Dahill had a slightly different take on that
idea. he thinks a special awards court could be devised. Judges on that court
would have to have good medical knowledge.
One of Dahill’s final remarks was that prevention takes a backseat to
intervention and that should be changed.