published Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Chattanooga: Panelists balance hope, worry over health reform

by Emily Bregel

A panel of three local speakers representing health insurers, hospitals and physicians expressed varying levels of hope and trepidation about health care reform this morning.

Jim Brexler, president and CEO of Erlanger hospital; Vicky Gregg, CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; and local medical oncologist B.W. Ruffner, president of the Tennessee Medical Association, discussed reform during a luncheon event at the Chattanoogan.

Dr. Ruffner said he does not believe health reform tackles the major problem of skyrocketing medical spending and he worries doctors will be restricted in their decision-making by cost concerns.

Still, he said he is heartened by the potential of health care reform exchanges to make insurance more affordable. The exchanges will be set up at the state level for individuals and small businesses, who will select from private health plans at more affordable premium rates.

“I think (they) actually drift us toward a German-type system,” he said. “I think that might have some downward pressure on (medical) inflation.”

For complete details see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

about Emily Bregel...

Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...

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