Chattanooga: Panelists balance hope, worry over health reform

Chattanooga: Panelists balance hope, worry over health reform

May 25th, 2010 by Emily Bregel in Local - Breaking News

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.