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Hal Donahue

Aug 13, 2009|

Sue Henry has a spirited discussion with Hal Donahue, writer for the Huffington Post and advocate for government health care.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

So now -- and he comes in here and and full blow up multiple distinct valid things oh no -- no this is exactly what they expect it's. Flexible blow up -- blow up -- -- -- -- -- at W -- and we of those seventy degrees we have clouds we have held on you in this in the studio. With us this morning he is a contributor to the Huffington Post as I said but I don't want you to get scared I think that's I don't want my and my friends to get scared I'm considered a conservative on the Huffington Post -- Well from now we'll we'll talk about that but why I want you to come in here today. Is because of your. The vast experience with government health care as we know it now let's explain a little bit about your background and and how you got involved I. I got involved in government health care actually when I wound up going to southeast Asia could. The military -- an idea that's an -- And I wound up in a hospital over there and had my gallbladder of -- think -- stake -- booked. And that was my introduction to military health -- I came back I went to university. Got out. Actually while he was going university it was a city policeman in Scranton and then upstate New York so I had government healthcare again municipal. And then I went back in the military and heads of government healthcare the whole time and European health care when we lived over there. And I still have military health care. Let's discusses some of these issues so from your perspective because there's there's so much noise and interference and things going on. I'm wolf we'll take it one bite at a time. Tell me a little bit about the government health -- you are you still receiving government health care as a member of the mill. -- still receiving government health care as a member of the military I'm still an out patient out Walter Reed. And I have -- care which is the the the public part of the military health care system so what is tri care to explain how word like care is. They pay my doctors there is participating doctors sometimes that's a problem and isolated areas but -- that most doctors participate. And it's tied so closely to Medicare it's kind of incredible -- pay a 115%. Of the Medicare. Look how does that Baghdad that that seems at odds be okay so bitten the medics carry it is acts and they pay over that right. A pay it like say a procedure would cost a hundred dollars under Medicare it to be 150 -- try to. Okay now that the try to -- you pay for that. I don't pay for that and total IA. To hit 65 and go on Medicare and then I pay. For some portion of the Medicare so that's fully funded and you don't pay a dime I don't pay a dime for it I paid for it by taking lower pay for twenty years in the -- understood does it cover your family. Covers my fan well my wife not a kangaroo on the dance but it does cover your spouse it's government healthcare it doesn't excellent job and it's good worldwide. Okay that so that's one portion of this is tri care. Let's talk about -- overseas experience with European style health care where where you and then -- what are your involvement. I was the first time I really got heavily involved with European style health care. Was when my wife had our oldest child their oldest or youngest son in the UK. It was sending US military hospital. And we were living on US military housing in the United Kingdom. And this is probably the first miss be dispersed. Say the government agents going to come to your house and tell you how to raise your child. -- British health care about a week after my wife came back from the hospital that was not get the doors Q can we come -- you. And talk to you and they brought a year's supply of free milk. The name of the doctors that child is entitled to. Ask if we had any questions any desires anything we possibly needed. They're concerned because our child was born in the UK is eligible for you came all medical care. That we had everything we wanted all preventive care we need. Heavy had a new experiences that are less than stellar in your experience have you ever needed something to be done and nobody could see you worry had a travel very far for the for the proceed. Not in the British system I've got friends that are still in the British that the British and still won the British system and the protocols are different. For example if you're having heart trouble and everything they'll treat you let it come down before you have a procedure where. In the US should probably go in yesterday. And that's that I I think and that's it and Howard were some of the the concern comes and because we see. The ways that did government regulations are written. We look at an agency like the IRS that really anymore if you have. Anything going on in your life that's slightly complicated. You must she get an intermediary. In order to get your taxes done I mean. I look at stuff like that I look at it as converse some. As a burden as an extra layer of bureaucracy and that's where I I am I truly have concern. As I can understand your concern I can understand people's concerns but I won't Medicare. Is a single Payer government healthcare system. I had a gentleman last night the -- pulled I was coming on the show. And he crossed his arms and said I want no government healthcare I said what do you have. How old are ace at seventy S -- what's your health care he said Medicare I pay for. And he doesn't pay if he pays a portion ultimate. Well yes that's true but also with the the Medicare system most people anymore are also paying for a supplement. Well exactly right I I would envision some form of government health care that's how little turn out who knows. And that people saying Medicare is going to be adversely impacted. You know politicians as well as I do -- no politician. Is going to touch the third rail of cutting Medicare payments from Medicare -- It isn't there is something that will be in trouble in the future because of the on. I guess the demographic shift that we're about to see an America where America is graying America is older they're gonna be more people. Demanding. Medicare or -- because that that's the way it works are we going to see a problem there are aware of Medicare is going to start saying. We're not paying for this were not paying for this she better seat that was your supplemental provider we're not covering that doesn't go away. Medicare should have the building surpluses. And instead congress spent -- and the administration's spending you know that as well as I do. But the bills coming due. I mean all these. -- deficit budgets and things the bill is coming -- will have to pay for but there are efficiencies and Medicare like the drug. Drug purchasing at retail prices. That can be corrected immediately. There's an article in the New York Times today I don't know if you saw -- where a group of doctors and health care providers are talking about. -- states and they have the north south west their -- areas of them are actually caught producing better health care at lower cost. Using Medicare statistics. So there's there's a lot of give and take and learning going on and I that's. For all the mobs on the street or whatever worth going back and forth it is starting a dialogue and that's good. You know what is and that's the one part about this -- that you and I can certainly agree on that before this issue came to the surface. Some people complain about their health care and they they did this that the other thing. But they didn't actively sit down and really think about it and I think did. That's that's my my my theory on mess is that. Before the government. Goes fourth I truly believe they need to hear citizens now these town hall meetings in there they're hearing yelling their hearing screaming. They think they need to hear from the the -- the nurses on the floor the doctors in the office I've been in hospitals -- -- the last three months now someone in my family. I couldn't I've seen a lot of things go on I think hope might. You do it out like -- does the government care really about what we have to say -- they just gonna. Craft a plan I spent two and a half years the past two and a half years recovering from prostate cancer. I have been in the civilian side and I had operations at Walter Reed. The doctors and the nurses I've talked to repeatedly. Say they want to. More time with patients. They want to. Customer care is their goal you here we're not gonna finding doctor -- I cannot find any nurses my wife gave up a six figure career to go back to -- I mean -- there -- about patient care. And that that's something we mess and I talked I talked to several local doctors who said that. Give me more time with my patients and family all gladly give up some income because are working longer and longer hours for less and less and I think if you talk to your doctors that's what the case. Well and that's what I've seen I've seen nurses instead of being in a room -- writing and writing and writing and working on charts and writing in the charger like this big there. Hey you know that the charts look like. Well -- eat like war and peace by the time it's also and -- and and some people believe and I know there's some debate about this. That everything has to be so closely documented because society is so litigious and they're worried about. You know get their hides sued off you know it is there is is that a component because I've heard from lawyers on the show and I've heard from doctors. And their stories are completely different. My personal opinion is a missile aggravate every lawyer doctor -- an insurance person out there is I think a pox on all their houses. That doctors have not enforce quality I mean that the -- every doctor you know. Ask if there's a doctor Dave never send their worst enemy to announce they'll they'll tell you yes. Lawyers by the same token that the classic ambulance chaser. That the state teams and clean that up with the fines for frivolous lawsuits if you will an insurance companies. Again this is my opinion seemed to have forgotten that there are being paid to accept some risk. Well sure and and that's that's where people get not about the stuff because. People who would have paid for health care and then they wanna use it oftentimes -- the health care provider as a in now you can't have that no you can't stay longer know you can't go there. And it and people are up and -- so I worry in the future if there is this giant amount of user ship that your time with your patience is going to shrink even more I don't address that I. I will address that like the aircraft industry or even the FCC -- -- -- But but what I'm saying is someone has to regulate the playing field and make the rules. I can remember when I was growing up the where aircraft accidents all the time. I mean my first time that I had met a government bureaucrat death counselor was when they took footprints. Of me I was in my twenties it flight school. And I want why do do that for my medical records is it often times that's all let -- survives and you need to learn about wills and all this stuff that was my Mike council. Flying was dangerous it has gotten much safer but it's because of regulation. Private end to end government government. And here's where we probably disagree I think cast the -- has to make the rules on the playing field. -- Take columns let's show a cell phone on WI allocated talk to held on UI -- I have. But he -- bubble -- -- and we'll close it -- it before me this whole debate because. I'm gonna help our insurance industry. Okay should we Medicare and fill out seniors but I want to comment won't -- about a couple they're purple you had mentioned that your chair in England. -- All of you -- -- And I'll tell you that what I would bear in the early eighties. A -- that I got it won't it was great. What I went back there it's not too long ago -- war. It was terrible. It would give the antithesis of what I want before. And what I talked to people there they were voted out over -- Bradley things were taken away from them. -- -- got water free what and that was what the problem. So. I don't get it really -- it there could be something better. Maybe. -- all things that if you can't have waited they're going. What what would you -- as someone in this industry -- Please give us is something positive that we can take forward and and. People don't you can -- more regulation of insurance companies comfortable with regulated. Industries that are out there and you know. Good. -- all I mean believe me I had to sit here and just like -- -- -- act and there's so many different regulations that insurance coverage or told how the candidate all they can't make fun. The big problem is what the -- ports for Oprah unveiled. -- caught. But it here this program -- the circuit board health care provider in the country just said you know what. December 31 you're our hero but I didn't totally out of the Medicare -- And that's what's gonna happen the way it's working I -- I -- you're able to bet it's unbelievable people work. You America and the people all pro has -- typically skeptical that those are the subsidy. They're gonna they're gonna fit to provide the services that they're talking about him. What the last part of -- -- that you plan -- -- Medicare all of -- -- retirees. That it planned to go out the window with the best it -- the most comprehensive plan had been recovered much. What got rewarded painful part to recover Jae plant about forty to thirty dollars more -- Portland. Then the plan which took over those -- carpet -- -- help you understand it thanks John that I laid out you can just analysts not to I'm sorry what's -- back on because I was wondering. What the difference in those plans were and what his proposal because right now there is no healthcare plants it. I mean now is the time to hammer these things out. I'd PA child care and one in Western Pennsylvania and there are after attempted to conceal that income as part of this plea agreement with the government miracle has agreed. To pay two point one million for the purpose. A funding programs for the health safety and general welfare of children in Lucerne county Pennsylvania. That. Is a big. Big big news we're gonna go back to help Donahue after the break but Robert -- golf -- latest person. To become involved in this Lucerne county scandal. And some people were thinking that this would never happen but guess what people you have a new guy up there in charge and it happens I hope that brings you some comfort. I held Donahue is here I had a bunch of people are gonna enjoy NASA nurse and doctor. Who has worked too with how Donahue in the and they've -- WLK how Donahue. Veteran who has been using health care system for a long time -- -- -- as safe municipal workers so heat is a proponent of of changing the way that we. Deliver health care in the United States Debbie from looks very as a nurse -- Debbie I I wait forever for -- like you to call because I think you must see it all and you have some great ideas right. Well I don't know I have great ideas but I can tell you if I do support. Reformer from tight the I've been a nurse for thirty years in the hospital. And I could tell you are not here thirty years ago with a lot -- I had time to stand with my patients -- And it's actually become. A productivity life. In a hospital and especially for nurses you are given so many patients to take hero. And just a minimum amount of times. And in the last few years I've actually had a manager who came up to me and told me that it should not take me. More than eight minutes and fifty seconds to give a patient about. Did I just didn't like school art it's like you talk to you why I need to be able to talk to my patients. I'm sorry Larry -- I. He had Debbie I isn't it aren't nurses organizations actually fighting to limit the number of patient the patient workload Farrar ends especially. Yes we are. You end -- actually am a big supporter that also because what we fear of hair out is that. Health care become a business. And they look at bottom line -- profits but there's not looking at patient outcomes. And unless we can somehow. Put some type of regulation -- -- -- They're just gonna keep pilot more and more work on it and decreasing. The amount of time you're taking care of patients. A patient becoming more of an object. Rather against a person. And I'm ya I wanna spend time with my patient and the -- well Leo I talked to him popular thing. What what what can change your way in in your opinion as a professional and someone who's on the floor all the time. What what can change your what would you tell. Congrats. Well I guess. The first thing is they have to look at the patient we have complete cure the patients want. Page instead of paying per procedure let's paper outcome. Let's take care of the patient and had a time before it gets really bad. I mean in my experiences I've watched doctors. Or your -- one patient they ordered X ray a cat scanned and then an MRI. Knowing full well that the MRI is what they really need but. Our security. We'll get paid according to the number of procedures. So they order Moore didn't actually needed -- here. And unfortunately I think as consumers we expect more. We're not. We think that. Getting more done it better when not necessarily is that true. Are you saying like the placebo effect. I'm not sure I'm not sure that's the way I would put it -- There's just so much duplication out there tell me people come to an emergency room because they -- broken arm. They get it straight take the hospital will give -- -- film can take to be orthopedic surgeon more big dude you're going to see tomorrow. They go to be orthopedic surgeon -- look at the look at the X -- and says I need to do another one now. This isn't good enough. Put electronic records take care that. I think it would take care of some other. But I think we have to do we take crap come we don't we should be paying -- procedure we should be paying for outcome. In other words rather than seeing a broken arm -- -- -- broken arm should be the outcome. -- -- It's. Right now. Especially most doctors will have. Extra machines right in there. All this form. A lot of doctors all -- other co owners in. Standalone facilities here because Turkey dinners and things like that. It's almost like we're playing doubles critic. Now the W mention all live the tests that are ordered when you only need no one. Com is is that just suit covers somebody's rear -- in case there's some kind of loss -- is that because there enriching themselves because they. Get paid for for the for these tests -- what why are they what are they ordering all these tests. Well art insurance industry basically pays for. Pretty. -- -- -- you're built from the hospital. You are you will -- I got -- pretty jailbreak your right we'll have the pharmacy costs in the radio talk you kicked. You'll get built for each per feature. Did you really needing extra feature. Okay but what why wouldn't insurance company want to pay for all those procedures is my question. When they can save money by not. I think in a lot of circumstances. Where. In -- and it didn't just my -- current. Is we're looking at. -- agreement. Between an insurance company in a hospital we see I'm here won't dare we see this right now. I insurance companies -- credit agreement with hospital insurance companies will only pay certain hospital. And each hospital. -- down and negotiate what they will be paid. From -- insurance. Come to what would -- more competition it more insurance companies more of when would that help or hurt. -- you don't -- they did. I hear did you read an article. All -- about two weeks ago in the paper get it might Pennsylvania and kids here at. You though there are a lot of insurance company in Pennsylvania the mark insurance market actually you'd be monopolized. By a single corporation. Which -- apparently Debbie has controlled 70%. Of all the insurance in the state so some. I guess what I'm I'm saying is. If that was sort of broken up -- people are given the opportunity. Do you think that that would change the dynamic of of what happens in what you see. I don't know I think it I don't know how does -- remain in the free market. You don't have a lot of faith in the free market -- time because I've seen there is here -- a lot of cool ocean out there. And people sit in back rooms -- -- planning strategizing making deals. Yeah but -- I would also say for example live doctors I I know quite a few doctors. And I still think that -- care for the vast majority of them. Is the bottom line just like it is with you folks. Yeah you're right you're right to doctor do care. The doctors want. The outcome they care for their patient to patient you know want to -- Unfortunately I think a lot of times since they're they're too much outside external influence. Whether it be formal facility or from. And. They have to deal with the insurance companies they have to deal with some hospitals they have to make payroll. And I know the billing clerks and things they have the higher but it's a tremendous cost overhead. -- -- actually go how Donahue is with me we have some more callers it will take after the break and also. Much to -- housed a licensee reference Rick Santorum when he spoke about me today. Rick Santorum is actually gonna join us at about 10:55 this morning for a couple minutes and now will listen. We'll listen to what he has to say to. President Santorum. And that that's gears the -- jeepers out of a lot of people but I think it should. It's ten according to a W I'll OK you're listening on 910 in Scranton 980 wilkes-barre thirteen under dates within 103 point one FM. 10467. Parents -- a couple more minutes with how Donahue then I'm gonna welcome I'm Rick Santorum into the show. This this -- just keeps -- donated 300981804. 37 as euros or 98 this is. And pardon me doctor can you please pronounce your last name so I don't massacre at. -- also has gone to say doctor you Josie that I didn't Hawaiian word get it wrong but don't welcome doctor thanks for calling in. Thanks for having me. I'm I'm just wanted to take a look quickly to help two we worked on the Kerry campaign together in Scranton. -- remember you now. Yeah laureate excellent how -- you. Doing very well. My my deep concern here and I want to applaud your previous caller -- I believe that -- think that nurses are these. They're the real foot soldiers and dean and not health care there the front line can. They deserve much greater respect that think they currently receive. Not just from doctors that -- -- chief said managers and administrators. And obviously that's just one a when a multitude of problems in healthcare now. I get what I want to state and what I want people to try and understand is that. Health care -- an industry that puts the premarket. On its head I mean it really is is such a reversal of what is normally. What normally drives you know -- if premarket principles. -- and I haven't really been able to understand. The reasons for that I just know that that is the fact. We're not selling widgets and that is not a traditional service you could. And I think that two questions need to be answered. Before we start even debating what needs to change one is his health care the right or privilege. I believe that. It is it right. But citizenship just like. You know so many other things that we take for granted. As citizens in this country sorry and that my bet. You guys sent me an ultra long drives are on -- and veterinary doctors are great aren't they don't believe whatever you want. So anyway. But I can't do it right. And what is second but -- the second question and. And the second point is you have to remove the for profit motive. Insurance companies are definitely not the answer not that I supported single Payer system. But they are not for profit. Examples of health -- union's health care coverage that. That does not. You know build these men insurance companies that. That they huge. Amounts to their executives while denying care to patients and there's the for profit motive is the primary. Cost driver of the primary problem in health care. And that's -- -- Thank you decade as she did the veterinary and thanks a lot I could add that sent the -- out quickly enough. Yeah I'll say it real quickly the one thing employer where it's a right I know there's questions about that and I'd like to point out that the health of the population. Is a it's a part of net what makes national power national security and I think that's being lost in the debate also. And I think this debate will continue I'm glad you're here today we we really need to get together again I don't think that were done talking about it and I I said that it would be great -- -- I could write down all our ideas. Do you think anybody would listen to the two of us. -- still listening now 10 I know all but we need to talk more held on his thank you for stopping violent way too fast for my satisfaction but we'll talk again in the future thank you get a sense fifty on their first.