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FULL STORY: Buchanan makes first visit to Ranch hospital

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  • | 4:00 a.m. June 6, 2012
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, lent his ear to local health-care professionals Saturday, May 30, making his first ever visit to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

Hospital administrators shared their concerns about Medicare changes and other topics, with Buchanan, who is the only representative from Florida to sit on the U.S House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee, which is tasked with addressing health-care issues, among others.

“I want to make sure we continue to be here for the community, as well as offer the services we currently offer,” Lakewood Ranch Medical Center CEO Jim Wilson said. “By talking to Rep. Buchanan, it will allow us to have his ear as to how potential cuts and changes in reimbursement will affect us.”

Wilson said hospitals nationally are struggling to offer a full array of services to the communities they serve, because Medicaid and Medicare programs pay less than the cost of providing care. Wilson also said emergency rooms are seeing a higher number of patients who can’t afford care, or who can’t afford the deductible their insurance requires them to pay.

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, he said, writes off almost $2 million in charity and bad debt monthly.

“At some point in time, hospitals and doctors have to make decisions on how to sustain programs that can’t cover costs or stop offering (those) services,” he said.

During the hour-long meeting, Buchanan said he recognized changes to Medicare will affect Florida disproportionately because of its demographics and that legislators must continue working to make the program sustainable for future generations.

“There’s more we can do,” Buchanan said. “Obviously, we have to reach out to the health-care community and we have to become more efficient, in general. We need to find a way to get waste and fraud out of there.”

Buchanan also said it is important to have candid conversations with health-care professionals so legislators know how proposed legislation will impact the industry and health services provided to the public.

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center has about 450 employees and partners with 30 physician office suites that have access to the hospital, Wilson said.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].


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