Crossroads experts to monitor Medicaid expansion

Keldy  Ortiz

Jan. 1, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.

When Louis Willeke thinks about the upcoming year, he's concerned about health as it relates to Refugio.

As CEO of Refugio County Memorial Hospital, Willeke is tasked with making sure the hospital runs smoothly. But even he is unsure about how the hospital will survive as health care continues to change.

"It's a big deal because everything is going up in prices, whether it is salaries or supplies," Willeke said. "It would be harder and harder to operate."

Like other health care providers in the Crossroads, the uncertainty of what will happen with health insurances that provide reimbursements are key to a health care provider's survivor. Of the health insurances, Medicaid will be just one of many topics discussed during the new legislative session.

In 2014, most of the Affordable Care Act will be in affect, and some states will not feel all the changes.

In Texas, that will be an expansion of Medicaid, which Gov. Rick Perry has expressed he will not allow.

Medicaid covers people who earn a low income. While hospitals rarely say no to treat a patient, at the same time, facilities can be left with a bill. That bill may not necessarily be covered by insurance, but is left to be covered by the patient.

"The problem is that most physicians won't see Medicaid patients. It's very frustrating as a physician," said John McNeill, an internal medicine physician who is medical director at Twin Fountains Medical clinics. "As physicians, we want to take care of everybody. I want to help as many patients as I can."

At Memorial Medical Center in Port Lavaca, administrator Jason Anglin expressed similar sentiments.

In the midst of recruiting another physician for the hospital, which he calls a "long-term process," he is unsure how health insurance will operate.

"We'll just have to see how things work out," Anglin said. "We're here for the community."

Taylor Starkey, a physician at Texas Health Center in Victoria, said everyone should receive health care. He also understands someone has to pay the bills.

"People definitely deserve basic health care. The question is who should be paying for it, " Starkey said.

In Victoria, Citizens Medical Center CEO David Brown sees problems if Medicaid is not expanded.

Brown, like other administrators in the Crossroads health care community, wants a resolution to the situation.

"We have ourselves being faced with a lot of responsibility," Brown said. "But we don't have the means to."



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