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The Healthcare Bill, from a Hospital's Perspective – IACCGH Also Honors Dr. Guru Reddy


By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: It was refreshing to hear the CEO of one of the nation™s largest hospital chains bring his assessment of the status of healthcare in the US. Healthcare as it has been practiced in the US is a train wreck that has been waiting to happen, said Dan Wolterman, President and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System as he addressed the nearly 100 people who came to the reception organized by the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston last Wednesday evening, April 6 at the Hilton Hotel on Post Oak with finger food catered by Madras Pavilion.

Wolterman was the main speaker at the IACCGH which also honored Dr. Guru Reddy on his appointment as the110th President of the Harris County Medical Society this past January with a special award presented at the reception by Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia who also made some brief remarks.

IACCGH President Mona Parikh, an attorney affiliated with the Jones, Mays & Ramsey law firm welcomed the guests and set the tone for Wolterman™s ensuing talk. She recounted how the present Healthcare Bill has been struck down by two Federal courts and upheld by three and seems to be headed to the US Supreme Court for resolution, even as certain provisions of it have already started to be implemented.

She introduced IACCGH Board member Dr. Subodh Bucchar, who spoke of his association with Wolterman while they both served on the Board of the Memorial Hospital System in 1999. Bucchar briefly outlined Wolterman™s resume and accomplishments in welcoming him onstage.

Adrian Garcia, Guru Reddy Don Wolterman

From the onset, Wolterman acknowledged that the healthcare system in the US is fundamentally broken down and needs immediate changes, citing the over 50 million people without insurance, spiraling costs and that the health of the people is not good in comparison with other developed countries, despite the enormous amounts spent per capita. The costs are out of control, he said, and are expected to rise dramatically to $4.4 trillion by 2020.

I think the American system is the best in the world in rescue healthcare and how to restore your quality of life, Wolterman pointed out, but we need healthcare for the masses, citing teen pregnancies, mothers without prenatal care, high obesity and diabetes rates. We are not serving patients well and our system is doomed to fail and the insurance will become unaffordable, he added. More co-pay and premiums by employees does not produce healthcare insurance. In fact, we are underinsured.

However, Wolterman had issues with the massive 2,000 page Healthcare Bill which he said was poorly written, hard to follow, high on regulation and does not deal with cost side or access to healthcare, but is really an insurance bill. His major objection to the bill are the numbers used to pay for the insurance premiums and that it did not cover all of the uninsured, but just half of them. Furthermore, with penalties for employers who did not offer insurance, and employees who could opt out for much less penalty, Wolterman has concluded that the Bill, as it stands now, will only cost the country many billions more after it really has to start paying benefits in the 11th year. It is faulty math that has been sold to the public, said Wolterman.

From left: Mona Parikh Dan Wolterman and Gopal Savjani Photos: Bijay Dixit