President Shalala hosts town halls on health care reform

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, former secretary of health and human services for the Clinton Administration, has hosted a number of campus meetings at the residence halls for students to discuss the current debate on health care reform.

The latest meeting was on Monday at Eaton Residential College. Shalala discussed the current state of health care and its costs.

Over 80 percent of the uninsured are employed, and people without insurance often wait to see a doctor until absolutely necessary, said Shalala. This causes an increase in costs, since worsening conditions require more drastic steps for treatment.

Shalala attributed a large part of the problem to the current fee structure, which gives doctors incentive to increase the number of diagnostic procedures. Fee service is when a doctor receives payment for each test they perform.

When Shalala went to the University of Miami Hospital for an ankle injury, she suggested a procedure to her doctor that saved money and would get her home faster.

“Doctors shudder when I walk into our hospital, since they know I’m going to find ways to cut costs,” she said.

Shalala stressed the importance of health care reform by expressing her belief that there will soon be legislation from Washington addressing the issue.

“This is an idea whose time has come,” she said. “The risk is creating a negative coalition; a coalition of people all agreed on what is wrong with the bill.”

Sophomore Vlad Soare found the meeting to be very productive and Shalala’s remarks on fee service important.

“I thought it was interesting to note how some people will try to see a specialist without first seeing a general practitioner,” he said.