Hospital officials talk universal health care

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Roosevelt General Hospital officials discussed the upcoming legislative debate over universal health care in New Mexico with board members at their regular meeting Tuesday and said the outlook wasn’t good for hospitals.

Administrator James D’Agostino said he was flabbergasted by newspaper stories that Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., a group hired by the state to analyze health care reform proposals, had reduced its forecast of a plan put forward by the governor from $333 million to $72 million.

He said he couldn’t understand how such a reduction could be achieved by a simple error.
“There’s no way to go from $330 million to $75 million,” D’Agostino said. “There’s just no response (from Mathematica) there.”

D’Agostino said that he didn’t believe legislators would be able to tackle health care reform in the short 30-day session this year. He said that lawmakers would be discussing the issue and he planned to stay on top of it through Portales lobbyist Mike Miller.

D’Agostino said that despite his skepticism on the cost reduction, the governor’s plan was probably the best one being considered in his opinion. He said that is likely because he has control of Medicare and Medicaid.

According to Richard Pope, director of Rural Services with Covenant Healthcare System, RGH’s contracted management entity, local hospitals may be the loser in the debate.

“I think it’s very important we stay on top of that (health care reform debate),” Pope said. “Whatever plan they pick is not going to be good for Roosevelt General.”

Pope said the end result could be the state controlling which doctors people can see and where their point-of-service should be.

In other business the board:
• Learned that RGH began using its new MRI on Monday. Doctors and staff reported being impressed with the images it is producing.

• Learned that RGH’s clinic in Clovis now has all available time leased to physicians.

• Received an update on the hospital master plan and expansion.