LIMA — U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Worthington, participated Tuesday in a roundtable discussion with administrators of St. Rita’s Medical Center and Lima/Allen County officials.
Tiberi, who chairs the House Ways and Means Subcomittee on Health, said the purpose of the visit was to hear the challenges and concerns of local health care professionals.
“When I became health chairman, I realized I should get a better understanding of the challenges Ohio hospitals have,” Tiberi said. “Ohio hospitals are mostly set up the same way, but they have different challenges. For me to get a better understanding of what’s happening in Lima, I need to go meet with a team at a hospital in Lima.”
Issues that were discussed at the roundtable included the inflation of drug costs, educating people on their health care options, and making sure the region’s patients have access to care, as well as helping them find the appropriate facility to receive that care.
Tiberi said the reason he wanted to hear from health care officials was not to tell them what to do, but to fully understand the challenges they face on a local level.
“You guys deal with this every day, so the last thing I wanted to do is tell you what to do,” he said. “I want to help be part of the solution.”
The congressman discussed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and the negative effects he feels the legislation is having on the health care industry.
“In 31 percent of U.S. counties, people who live there only have access to one health insurance provider,” Tiberi said, quoting an analysis of ACA by the Kaiser Family Foundation. “That’s not good news for patients like me or you who are trying to get health care.”
Tiberi said the lack of choices is concerning, especially when considering that smaller health care facilities are either closing or consolidating with larger facilities.
“We’re seeing consolidation with respect to doctor’s practices who are having to either get bigger, or they’re bought by larger hospitals,” he said. “We’re seeing this consolidation because they can’t afford to stay small. They have to get bigger in order to comply with the law.
“Those trends are not good for patients in the end.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.