Minn. medical experts mixed on health care legislation

The President holds a bi-partisan health care summit Thursday in hopes of bringing new life to overhauling the health care system. That legislation stalled last month when Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Dr. Robert Nesse, head of Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, a part of the Mayo Health System, said he hopes that Congress will still pass some kind of health care legislation. He said the bills contained many innovative ideas that would have insured more Americans and provided better health care.

"All of that is in one of those bills and to have all of that just go out and be lost after all of this work because of other issues, would be a tragedy for this country," Neese said.

Among the other ideas proposed by Obama in the legislation, one is giving the federal government new authority to block insurance companies from raising premiums that it decides are excessive. The CEO of HealthPartners, Mary Brainerd opposes that idea. She said that kind of insurance regulation is better left to individual states.

"In fact in our state, that power exists in the current regulatory structure," Brainerd said. "I think there should be oversight and review of rates, don't get me wrong, I'm just not sure the federal government is the place to do that."

Nesse and Brainerd made their comments at Tuesday night's MPR UBS Forum on the health care summit.

Another panelist, a family physician in Minneapolis, said the current system isn't working because some of her patients can't afford to pay health insurance premiums.

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