Docs will weigh in on health care law at upcoming forum
BY JANET MARSHALL
Two local physicians will share their views of the health care reform act—and what it may mean for you—during a community gathering in early August.
Dr. Jody Crane, an emergency room doctor who thinks the act is the wrong approach to reforming health care, and Dr. Christopher Lillis, an internist who supports the Affordable Care Act, will be the keynote speakers at a forum Aug. 1.
The forum will take place at 7 p.m. in a conference center above the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic on Sam Perry Boulevard in Fredericksburg. It will be sponsored by Healthy Life Virginia, a health newsletter produced each weekday morning by The Free Lance–Star.
At the gathering, Drs. Crane and Lillis will take turns presenting information and analysis on the health care law and answering community members’ questions. The discussion will be moderated by Ed Jones, The Free Lance–Star’s executive editor.
Lillis, of Chancellor Internal Medicine in Spotsylvania County, said he will try to inform community members about some key elements of the law. Among the points Lillis plans to highlight:
“Roughly 5 million more Americans under the age of 26 now have health insurance,” he said. “Tens of millions of seniors have saved money on their prescription drug coverage. No longer can children be denied insurance based on a pre-existing condition, and adults will share the same benefit in 2014.”
Lillis, who writes a monthly medical column for the paper’s Healthy Living section, said he hopes community members will leave the forum with more knowledge of the law—and less fear of it.
“One thing Americans understand is that the health care system needs great improvement,” said Lillis, a board member with the national group Doctors for America. “The Affordable Care Act makes great strides at beginning these improvements. It’s not a perfect law, but it’s also not going to end civilization as we know it.”
Crane, who works in the emergency department at Mary Washington Hospital and holds administrative and board positions at Mary Washington Healthcare, will present a different view.
Crane said he believes the law will increase health care costs in the U.S. while neglecting to address some important issues—such as the lack of transparency in health care pricing, and the fact that physicians are compensated more for performing procedures than for promoting wellness.
Crane said he’s concerned that increasing access to health care under the act without fundamental changes in the way healthcare is delivered will cause costs to soar, further stressing the financial viability of state and federal governments. This could trigger cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements—which could put the financial health of hospitals at risk, Crane said.
Crane, an adjunct professor in the College of Business at the University of Tennessee, penned an opinion column for The Free Lance–Star last fall, writing that he’s happy the government is taking steps to reform “our broken health care system.”
But he added: “I think current reform measures do not meet the needs of our people; namely, expanding access and reducing cost. The measures taken are superficial.”
Lillis also penned an opinion piece for the paper last fall, praising the act for expanding access to health care and providing protections to people with pre-existing conditions.
He wrote, “The act does not fix all problems related to the cost of health care, but it has begun to realign financial incentives for physicians to foster better quality of care and higher value primary care, which ultimately will bring down health care costs and improve clinical outcomes for the entire nation.”
The act, often called Obamacare, was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010. The Supreme Court ruled on its legality in late June, upholding major provisions whose constitutionality had been questioned.
The forum will help community members gain a better understanding of the complex law, said Karen Dulaney, executive director of the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic.
“This event is important because we are finding that there is much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Affordable Care Act,” Dulaney said.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Community forum on the Affordable Care Act, featuring local physicians Dr. Jody Crane and Dr. Christopher Lillis.
WHEN: Aug. 1, 7 p.m.
WHERE: The John F. Fick Conference Center in the Carl D. Silver Health Center at 1301 Sam Perry Blvd. in Fredericksburg. The entrance is at the back of the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic.
DETAILS: The forum will include a question/answer session. Community members should submit questions about the health care law in advance of the forum; send them to Healthy Life Virginia editor Janet Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE INFO: Get updates on the forum plus local health news and advice from Healthy Life Virginia. Go to fredericksburg.com/gethealthy to sign up for the free newsletter.
Janet Marshall: 540/374-5527