Karpf meets with international journalists to discuss healthcare reform

When journalists from other countries came to Kentucky last week to cover the Vice Presidential debate, they needed someone who could help them understand healthcare issues that are proving to be key in this year’s election.

To explain those issues, they went to Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president of UK HealthCare.
Karpf met Wednesday with about 15 journalists from other countries, including Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands and China. The group discussed the issues surrounding health care reform, including what the Affordable Health Care Act looks like and concerns that have been voiced about the plan.

“We talked about the fact that the two major drivers are coverage and cost,” Karpf said. “There are more than 50 million Americans who are uninsured or underinsured, and a cost of 17 percent of the gross domestic product is just unsustainable, and it’s increasing.”

And while he didn’t take sides with the politics involved, Karpf did say that, in his judgment, the most important issue to address first is cost, rather than coverage.

“Cost and coverage are both critical,” Karpf said. “I probably would have worked on the cost issue first, then explored the coverage issue when the cost was under control.”

Karpf said the reporters were deeply analytical of the healthcare issue, and that they came looking for a basic understanding of the issues at hand. After all, Karpf said, there is no right or wrong answer.

“They really wanted to understand what the Affordable Health Care Act will and won’t do,” Karpf said.

The participants in Wednesday’s discussion came from health care systems that are more centrally driven, Karpf said.

“I pointed out that, ultimately, we either have a private sector health care system that works on competition, quality and cost or we have a budgetary driven system by the government,” Karpf said. “Personally, I hope we go through the private route. One economist calls that managed competition – not managed care. That’s a model I think we will evolve to.”

Karpf said he was honored that the group looked to UK HealthCare for help in understanding these issues.

“I think it’s recognition that UK has a special place in the health care system in the Commonwealth, and that we will be major participants – if not a driver – of how health care evolves in the Commonwealth.”


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