Welch talks ACA at DHMC - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Welch talks ACA at DHMC

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Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt) says the debate surrounding health care in Washington has been a bitter one. But when it comes to health care costs, it's the patients not politicians, who are having to swallow a bitter pill -- rising prices.  

People like hospital employee Linda Gravell, who needs surgery. "Deductibles are going up, insurance benefits are going down and usually I have to make up the difference," Gravell said.

"Focused on cost is absolutely essential to the future of heath care," Welch said. But he says costs are often out of patients' control. "People who get a health care bill are totally frustrated because you don't know what you are going to get charged, you have no control over it and you can't negotiate it," he said.

Welch told the audience at Datrmouth Hitchcock's health policy grand rounds that more transparency and competition are needed -- items he says are addressed in the Affordable Care Act.  But facilities like Dartmouth-Hitchcock also have a lot at stake and Welch says that many more issues need attention.  "How do the new payment models work?  What do we need to do to make adjustments so we can get good quality and sustainable funding for our providers?" he said.

In this case DHMC has long been a proponent of turning away from the fee-for-service model that rewards a system of more procedures -- which officials say raises costs.  "It really makes things challenging.  You are literally looking for a way to reduce your revenue.  And hooray for this system, that the culture is such that we all accept that," said DHMC's Frank McDougall.
Instead, the Medical Center is focused on improving outcomes more efficiently -- examining how health care is delivered.  But looking ahead, officials here all agree that progress is hard to make with things like failing websites standing in the way.  "I think the website is a debacle and that is unfortunate because it's going to delay the time for people to see how and if this works," McDougall said.

Gravell has coverage through this facility but she is also looking toward the future --  making sure her family has the health care it needs. "It's traumatic because it is your body.  Yeah, it's traumatic," she said.

Congressman Welch says he's optimistic moving forward but he also says people need to come together, including the experts here on the front lines, all with the same goal -- to reduce costs and increase coverage for everyone.

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