Pawlenty and Gingrich talk healthcare at U

They discussed how to reform healthcare in Minnesota and nationally.
July 15, 2009

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich talked about the future of healthcare Wednesday at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center.
They spoke to an audience of about 150 at a workshop titled “Creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System in Minnesota,” hosted by the Center for Health Information.
Pawlenty called the nation’s healthcare system “fundamentally broken,” and said reform should come through consumers paying for quality of care, and correcting medical malpractice.
Both speakers critiqued the 1,000 page proposal released by the Obama Administration Tuesday, which would reduce the number of uninsured by 37 million and cost about $1 trillion dollars over 10 years.
Pawlenty said if national reform is centered on price, Minnesota would get the short end of the stick because it has one of the most efficient systems in the nation.
Gingrich said the number one word to describe the proposal is “disappointing.” He called it a “1970 socialized medical model brought up 30 years later.” He said the proposal was all about control, and the bill created 31 new agencies, but lacked innovation.
Both speakers said Obama’s reform bill should be stalled. Gingrich said as time goes on it would be tougher to pass it through the Legislature.
Gingrich also shared Pawlenty’s motto that it is unnecessary to raise taxes. He said if healthcare payments were aligned with value and “we go after the crooks” (people committing medical malpractice), there would be almost enough money to pay for universal coverage.
He gave the example of five pizza parlors that were claiming to treat HIV/AIDS to collect coverage as an example of people abusing the system.
Frank Cerra, senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School, also said there is no need for new money to enter the healthcare system. He said the way doctors are paid needs to change and nurses could be better utilized. Eliminating fraud in service programs like Medicare and Medicaid could also save money, Cerra said.
Human service programs were also criticized at the state level, as Pawlenty said programs like General Assistance Medical Care were “designed on the heels of others,” and are “now imploding.”

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