Health care reform is a hot topic in Washington again. Congress is taking sides in what is the latest round of the emotionally charged issue of how much health care access and choice Americans should get, and who should pay for it. The White House has teamed up with the American Medical Association to promote a "patient's bill of rights" that would strengthen doctors' and patients' power in decisions over care. The managed care industry, understandably, is on the defensive, so the Business Journal asks:

Do you think Washington should get more involved in the regulation of health care?

Andrew Spathis

Executive Vice President of Operations and Development

The Estrin Organization

I think the government should get more involved. In any business entity, unfortunately, one of the primary objectives is to generate a profit. When that occurs there's a danger of misplacing priorities. The notion of care is primary and it's hard to generate the best care when you're concerned about cost. We need someone to oversee that and see that the right attention and the best possible care is being given to people.

Richard A. Holt

Vice President, Director of Professional Services

Lee Hecht Harrison

Pretty much across the board, everyone's dissatisfied with HMOs. The health care initiatives of six years ago failed and the HMOs have been doing it on their own. Here we are six years later and the papers are full of horror stories. You're hearing stories about making decisions based on bottom-line costs. I'm not in favor of regulating health care, per se. I think it would be better if the industry would do it on their own, but six years after they said they could do that, personally, I think their reaction has been to make it worse. It's certainly not less expensive and it is less caring. At some level, someone needs to get involved.

Debra Hubers

President

Imperial Technology Solutions

Between their employees and Medicare, the U.S government is one of the largest purchasers of health care services in the nation. It is a big expense and from that standpoint, they should be involved in regulation. But my background is in electronic data infrastructure, and I think the government, instead of mandating the way things should be done, should promote standards to make business more efficient in this country. If they could help promote a standard to move electronic health care claims, electronic referrals, eligibility, and other administrative transactions, I think there would be some tremendous cost savings.

Edward Schoenberg

Vice President of Enrollment Management

Otis College of Art & Design

(picture in in-box)

Generally, I am not in favor of more government involvement in most issues. But having just switched insurance companies and having to go to an HMO, in my opinion, they are out of control. Without government regulation, the common person will never have the kind of health care they should have in this country. I don't see the health and insurance industries self-regulating. More and more health decisions are being made by accountants and not by medical people. We need to try something else.

Kenneth Yood

Partner

McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enerson LLP

I think that it is not a matter of more regulation, it is a matter of better regulation. Regulation can be a good thing when it helps with quality of care and access. Sometimes the regulations overreach and sometimes they don't reach the results that were desired. More effective regulation would be much better than more ineffective regulation. It's going to be a tough task.

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