Medical Professionals Sound Off on Health Care Bills

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - Like all Americans, health care providers are gearing up for the change.

NewsWest 9 stopped by all the places you go to see a doctor to find out what the new legislation means for your health.

One thing all the medical professionals NewsWest 9 talked to seemed to agree on is that this bill should keep people from misusing emergency rooms and hopefully help with healthcare costs.

But they're also a little confused about the short and long term consequences.

"Stepping back from it, in Texas, it will move us from 75 percent insured to 95 percent insured," Russell Myers, President and CEO of Midland Memorial Hospital, said. "If that's all you think about then, that's a real positive for us."

Across the Basin, other providers agree more insured people is a good thing.

"It's a little bit early to say exactly how its' going to impact us," Michael Austin with Midland Community Health Services, said. "But from the preliminary discussions I've had and some of the reviews that I've seen for our clinics, there may be a very positive benefit."

Austin's clinics serve low income families. So he expects more patients as more folks become eligible for Medicaid.

Plus the bill says clinics like his may receive billions in additional funding.

But the medical community fears cuts to the Medicare program could be a big issue.

"Nobody knows what it's going to look like," Dr. Richard Bartlett of Permian Prompt Care in Odessa, said. "There is a trend of doctors dropping Medicare - where they no longer are Medicare providers. I'm a Medicare provider, but I hope that this new health care bill does not cause other doctors to drop out."

Less money for some programs, but still an increase in patients has some scratching their heads.

"I worry the federal government will take money from us in other areas and use it to pay for those additional covered lives," Myers said. "I don't doubt there will be tweaking of the program over the next few years but that's the real risk that they'll take the money out of one pocket and put it in another."

Under the new bill, elderly patients will have all of their medications covered.

Still, the medical community says it'll take time before they figure out what's all in this bill.

"I don't think the bill as it was passed is a be all and end all," Austin said. "But it is something that got passed and that's a fairly major step. What remains to be done now is hammering out the details and making sure it works."

"The total cost of this health care bill is humongous," Bartlett said. "Whether we get a really good deal for what we pay for as citizens of this country - I'm not sure.

So there is still a lot of questions concerning this overhaul, but local medical professionals hope things will get a little better.