Marshall seeks insight on health care

U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., said Monday’s meeting with officials from Houston Healthcare gave him more insight into what he expects to hear during a weeks-long traveling junket speaking with medical officials and the public on health care.

“It’s pretty clear that doctors and patients are not interested in having government bureaucrats and health insurance bureaucrats interfering in their relationships,” said Marshall, who will hold a public town hall meeting in Forsyth at the Monroe County Board of Education Auditorium today at 6 p.m. “They recognize that change is necessary.”

His meeting with Houston Healthcare officials was the first of nearly two dozen talks with residents and health-care providers that will take place over the next two weeks.

In addition to tonight’s meeting in Forsyth, Marshall will speak today to the Greater Macon Area Chamber of Commerce at the Douglass Theatre at 8 a.m., then visit First Choice Primary Care on Walnut Street in Macon around 3:45 p.m.

Monday, officials relayed personal stories of problems within the current system, as well as where they have seen success.

“The idea is to listen to the concerns, thoughts, recommendations and needs, and their critiques of the current system,” Marshall said.

Marshall, who is opposed to the bill as it stands, said there were many factors of the proposed plan that left more to be desired — including the cost equations and end-of-life matters.

“I’m adamant that we not throw money at a system we’ve decided would bankrupt the nation within a matter of decades,” he said.

Skip Philips, the chief executive officer at Houston Healthcare, said some sort of protocol on end-of-life issues should be derived to properly account for the time needed for a patient to be of sound mind when making decisions.

“We need something making sure that conversation occurs over the last six months, not the last few weeks of life,” Philips said.

Marshall agreed.

“It is my view that everyone ought to have a living will and advanced medical directives well in advance (of when they’re needed) to make sure they’re not entered into without pressure,” he said. “It’s just too bad that if they don’t have it, their wishes are not necessarily followed.

“Me, as an individual, I’d like to make those decisions myself.”

To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.