Providence Medical Group CEO: We're 5-10 years out on single payer system

Payer mix changes, like a shift toward more patients in government programs, coupled with rising healthcare costs, mean change is likely coming for America's healthcare payment system, according to the Beaverton Valley Times.

Doug Koekkoek, MD, chief executive of Portland, Ore.-based Providence Medical Group, said a possible result may be a single payer health system run by the federal government, or universal insurance coverage. Providence Medical Group is part of Providence Health & Services, a 50-hospital system based in Renton, Wash.

"I am thinking we are five to 10 years out before that is a reality," Dr. Koekkoek said during a Washington County Public Affairs Forum May 14. "Where we are headed right now is probably not sustainable. We will not get to a single-payer system in the current administration, maybe even in the next. Things will have to get worse before they get better."

Dr. Koekkoek added as costs rise faster than the increase in government reimbursement, hospitals will continue to close.

"In a city like Portland, maybe that will not be that devastating. But if you are in a one-hospital town in rural Oregon, it's going to be a big deal," he said, according to the report.

He said hospitals and health systems are combating these pressures by getting rid of low-value care and attempting to better control the costs of their most high-risk patients.

"We need to do more. But I doubt we can rely exclusively on healthcare systems to do all those programs. Those are societal issues. I look at it as a shared obligation," the Beaverton Valley Times reports.

More articles on payer issues:
Highmark BCBS mailed incorrect explanation of benefits to 507 members
BCBS drops North Carolina community hospital from network
End gag clauses that keep patients in dark about drug costs, CMS urges

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