SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — U.S. Senator Mike Rounds hosted a roundtable Friday to discuss issues facing health care providers across South Dakota. The gathering in Sioux Falls included the the Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. The discussion included improving care at rural hospitals and clinics.
South Dakota hospitals and clinics target patients long before they wind up in the doctor’s office.
“We want to be able to make sure that we’re addressing folks that are in that higher-end of cost of care early, so that we can keep them out of the hospital and keep our overall costs down,” Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center Senior Director Erica Peterson said.
But providers told U.S. Senators Mike Rounds and Lamar Alexander that federal reimbursements aren’t geared toward educating the public on healthy life choices.
“We, right now, get paid for the illness, not in trying to make sure that we’re getting the right foods or an air-conditioner for a COPD patient, we don’t get incentivized for that right now,” Peterson said.
Senator Rounds touted a bipartisan bill sponsored by Alexander that he says will improve care in rural communities while making premiums more cost-effective. But he acknowledges that it’s a difficult balancing act when it comes to getting patients to follow doctor’s orders.
“One of the challenges we have here is how much money and how do you allow for accountability by health care professionals if that adult, that person that they’re treating, doesn’t have the resources or doesn’t understand how critical it is to change their own behavior,” Rounds said.
Health care providers attending this roundtable say they’re encouraged that members of Congress are listening to their concerns. Now they hope that will lead to action on Capitol Hill.
The hospitals and clinics attending the roundtable were members of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations.