Categories
State of Affairs

Health Care Reform with Congressman Yarmuth


Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Health Care Reform with Congressman Yarmuth
Talk of health care reform is everywhere these days. Newscasters, bloggers, pundits, commentators, and your great-aunt Sally are all talking about it and weighing in with their opinions. But in the end, what matters most is what they are saying in Washington—in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Tuesday we will talk with Congressman John Yarmuth to find out what our own representative is saying about health care reform and where the debate will go after the congressional recess. Join us to share your comments and questions with the Congressman.

Listen to the Show

Related Links:

Categories
Local News

Abramson Begins Applying For Federal Relief

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson is working with Congressman John Yarmuth and Governor Steve Beshear to apply for federal relief funds for this week’s flood.

The city needs to prove that cleaning up the damage caused by the flood will cost more than 5.2 million dollars. Mayor’s spokesperson Chris Poynter says that will be no problem.

“We’re 100% certain we’ve topped the $5.2 million just at the library alone,” he says. “It will probably be in the tens of millions of dollars in damages once you include everything.”

Poynter says more than 100 city buildings were damaged in Tuesday’s flood. If the president approves the request for disaster relief, federal funds will cover 75% of the cleanup bill and the city and state will split the remainder.

“It’s something we’ll have to make room for, we don’t have a choice,” says Poynter. “In less than 11 months we have had three major natural disasters and those have occurred at the worst economic crisis in this city and this country in many decades.”

Funds for private buildings and homes may become available later in the form of low-interest loans.

Categories
Local News

Yarmuth Says Recess Won't Hurt Healthcare Legislation

3rd District Congressman John Yarmuth says this month’s congressional recess will give the House time to resolve differences on healthcare reform legislation with each other and with their constituents.

The House will reconvene in September. In the time off, Yarmuth says legislators will talk to the public about healthcare reform as well as work behind the scenes to reconcile the three different versions of reform legislation currently in the House.

“Over the next month the staffs will be trying to figure out where the differences are, and then when we come back the committees are all going to have to decide which version goes to the floor,” he says.

Yarmuth says he’s confident the House will pass a bill by the end of September. There are currently two healthcare reform bills in the Senate. Senators will go to recess at the end of this week.

Categories
In-Depth News Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

A Look At Health Care Costs

Earlier this month, President Obama called on Congress to tackle the issue of health care reform this year.   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted there could be a bill under consideration in her chamber by the end of July.

WFPL’s Gabe Bullard has been speaking to some local officials about why health care is so expensive, and what kind of legislation might emerge from Capitol Hill.

“The surgery was over like so but I get pain in here and down, almost into my knee,” says Mary Danzeisen. When she broke her hip, she went to the doctor for a stress test to see if she could undergo joint replacement surgery. “My whole body was in the machine they were using, but I think the pictures were just of the midsection of my body.”

Later on, her daughter Karen got the bill.

Health Care“It’s listed as cardio-pulmonary and that’s like $1,537.82. Medical imaging – $7,169.97, and the drugs and pharmacy – $237. So it comes out to $8,944.79,” she says.

“Look at it in terms of a value proposition,” says Dr. Steve Hester. “I think the important thing is to say, what do you have access to? What services are you able to get? How fast can you get those services?”

Hester is the Chief Medical Officer of Norton Healthcare. He says medical costs not only include procedures and treatments, but various hospital services needed to offer those treatments. For example, the bills help pay for doctors of all specialties—from anesthesia to heart catheterization—to be on call around the clock. “Some of those costs are put into the overall cost of health care because those are all services as a community that we want available. We may not realize we want them until we need them.”

With that in mind, Hester says health care costs, on average, break down like this. For each dollar, 21 cents goes to care, ten cents to drugs, 7 cents to administrative costs, 8 cents to home care, 21 cents to clinical services and 23 cents to maintain the building and other costs.

And some of the money covers people who can’t pay their bills. Hester says Norton spends about $40 million each year on charity care.    It’s a cost that might not exist if the United States, like many other countries, provided health care for all citizens. But Hester says so-called universal health care is not necessarily high quality health care.

“Some of those systems offer delayed time you can get the services,” he says.

“Well have you tried to get an appointment with an allergist or a dermatologist lately?” says Congressman John Yarmuth. “There are long waits for certain care in the United States, too.”

Yarmuth is a proponent of government provided health care. But he says the single-payer system of nations like England and Canada isn’t coming to America anytime soon. “The Democratic agenda is to try to create a system, first of all, that covers everybody to make sure that everybody has health insurance, and uses competition to not only give consumers a choice of how they get their coverage but also to promote the type of innovations and efficiencies that competition can.”

Under Yarmuth’s plan, the millions of Americans without insurance could sign up for a government plan.   People with private coverage could keep their plans or enroll in the government’s system.    Ideally, he says, that would create competition among private insurers; competition that in other industries has led to lower prices, better service and innovations.

“That will force the private sector to compete effectively on some way or another, either on extra services or extra quality,” he says.

But some health insurance providers aren’t happy with the prospect of government involvement. Tony Felts, communications director for Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, says the best way to help the uninsured is to have the government help them pay for coverage, and not for health care.

“We believe that some sort of subsidy would be necessary for those who otherwise are not going to be able to afford a private health insurance,” says Felts.

Congressman Yarmuth argues that that type of plan would pour money into a broken system. Yarmuth and Selts do agree on one thing: the need for better preventive care and education, which would help drive down health care costs.

Even with a healthier populace, emergencies will happen and surgeries will be necessary.    And how to help Americans pay for those costlier procedures will be at the heart of the debate this summer on Capitol Hill.

As for the Danzeisen’s $9,000 medical bill, the government and private enterprise will cover it. Kathy Danzeisen says that’s the only way her mother’s bill will get paid.

“If she did not have Medicare and the secondary insurance, would we have paid for it ourselves?” she says. “I don’t think so.”

Categories
Local News

Kosair Receives Funds For Neonatal ICU Upgrade

Yarmuth at KosairKosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville has received $390,000 in federal funds.

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth secured the funds with an earmark in the recently-signed appropriations bill.    The money was presented to Kosair Wednesday and will be used for an expansion and upgrade of the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Norton Healthcare President Steve Williams says by improving the unit, Kosair will be able to attract more doctors to Louisville.

“Well it’s always a challenge to make sure that we have the specialists and sub-specialists for pediatrics because we’re having to compete with cities all around the nation for very scarce resources in terms of specialists and sub-specialists,” he says.

Williams says Kosair’s neonatal division treats patients from all of Kentucky and parts of southern Indiana.

Categories
Local News

Ask Congressman John Yarmuth


Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Ask Congressman John Yarmuth
Since Congressman John Yarmuth’s last visit to our studio, he’s won reelection, started working with a new congress and new president, dealt with economic woes and stimulus bills – and those are just the things that make news. Congressman Yarmuth joins us again on Tuesday to catch us up on what’s going on in Washington and to take your calls.

Listen to the Show

Related Links:

Categories
State of Affairs

Ask Congressman Yarmuth


TUESDAY, April 7, 2009
Ask Congressman Yarmuth
Since Congressman John Yarmuth’s last visit to our studio, he’s won reelection, started working with a new congress and new president, dealt with economic woes and stimulus bills. And those are just the things that make news. Congressman Yarmuth joins us again on Tuesday to catch us up on what’s going on in Washington and to take your calls.

Listen to the Show

Related Links:

Categories
Local News

Yarmuth Anticipates Lively Budget Debate

Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville says he’s looking forward to a spirited debate over President Obama’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

The budget outlines $3.55 trillion in spending, with particular focus on health care, energy, education and infrastructure.

Some Republican legislators have criticized the budget for its spending proposals. Yarmuth says he looks forward to seeing the GOP’s proposal.

“The Republicans have actually developed what they’re calling an alternative budget, because we have been asking the Republicans to help contribute to the process and not just take shots at it,” says Yarmuth.

The previous year’s budget proposed $3.1 trillion in spending, with less money going to the three largest entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Categories
Local News

Funds Given To ElderServe, Which Could Be Model For National Program

A Louisville-based program that provides protective services for senior citizens could soon be the model for a nation-wide system for abuse prevention.

The ElderServe program provides services such as legal assistance to senior citizens who have suffered from, or are at risk of, financial exploitation or physical abuse.On Friday, Congressman John Yarmuth presented ElderServe with $225 thousand obtained through a congressional earmark to continue to provide those services.

“There’s a wide array of services that senior may need,” says Yarmuth. “They may need a court order – a protective order. They may need legal assistance, they may need some temporary housing. And for a senior to go to six or seven places to get the services they need to protect them adequately is a very difficult thing.”

Yarmuth is also supporting legislation to extend ElderServe’s services to other cities.

“This is a bill to expand this program that ElderServe originated across the country to establish pilot programs, I think six pilot programs across the country,” he says.

The bill has cleared the House and is currently in the Senate.

Categories
Local News

Yarmuth Holds Town Hall On Stimulus

Congressman John Yarmuth will travel back to Washington on Monday after spending a week in his district.

Yarmuth made several appearances touting the recently passed stimulus package, which he says will bring billions of dollars to Kentucky.

On Saturday, the congressmen held town hall to discuss the package. He says the audience was wary, but optimistic.

“There were many questions about the long-term implications of it in terms of national debt, which we’re all concerned about. But by and large, I think the people who were there were more interested in getting information than with actually voicing an opinion,” he says.

Yarmuth says the stimulus will bring about 7 billion dollars to Kentucky in the form of tax cuts and funding for education, transportation and other projects and programs.