BEND, OR -- Three healthcare experts answered questions at a forum Tuesday evening about the current medical system, possible changes, and the importance of dialogue.
Joe Sluka, President and CEO of St. Charles Health System, Dr. Stephen Mann, President of High Lakes Health Care, and Lindsey Hopper, VP of Medicaid Programs for Pacific Source, made up the panel.
After brief introductions, the panelists answered questions submitted by the audience that ranged in topic from increasing costs and appropriate allocation to the current chaos of repeal and replace. When asked to explain one of healthcare's main problems, St. Charles' Joe Sluka said, "So, healthcare is too expensive. It's 28% of the federal budget. Now, to put it in another perspective, the highest cost raw material of a car made in Japan is steel, but the highest cost raw material of a car made in America is health care."
The evening's moderator was long-time Bend resident and health care expert, Jim Lussier, who likened the need to reform healthcare to growing up in the sixties and America's success at being first to reach the goal of walking on the moon. "When we have a focus on something, we're able to pull it off, in America. We're not that focused on healthcare, and it's going to take a lot of small steps, but it's going to take some big ones, as well."
Dr. Mann, a Primary Care Physician, made a case for a long-term relationship between doctors and patients. "The areas in multiple studies find that the more money that is put in primary care, in any health system, the better the access, the higher the satisfaction for the patient, and the higher the satisfaction for the professionals who are caring for them."
He says In Central Oregon, only 8% of overall medical funding is spent on primary care, as opposed to up to 30% in other nearby markets.
Medicaid expert, Lindsey Hopper, says that without conversation and attempting to find solutions together, no one will be adequately served by the healthcare system. "We also need to talk about how we get to be where we are in life, and how that changes how we use the healthcare system and what we expect from it. So, when it's highly expensive and it's really personal and it's really polarizing, it's hard to have a dialogue that gets us to a place of compromise."
Tuesday night's event was hosted by the Bend Chamber of Commerce as part of their "What's Brewing?" series.