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updated: 7/13/2017 9:37 PM

Northwest Community CEO criticizes GOP health care legislation

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  • Steve Scogna, CEO of Northwest Community Healthcare in Arlington Heights, criticized Republican health care legislation during a speech Thursday.

    Steve Scogna, CEO of Northwest Community Healthcare in Arlington Heights, criticized Republican health care legislation during a speech Thursday.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, 2014

 
 

The CEO of one of the suburbs' last remaining independent hospitals said Thursday that despite the difficulties of navigating the Affordable Care Act, changes proposed by congressional Republicans might not be much better.

Steve Scogna of Northwest Community Healthcare in Arlington Heights said GOP legislators "probably oversimplified" the process of making changes to the health care law promoted by former President Barack Obama.

"I think they really don't know what they're doing in all sincerity," Scogna said during a question-and-answer session at an Arlington Heights Rotary Club meeting. "I think that health care is much more complicated than what they thought it was, and I think as they dig into it, they're finding there's all kind of details that they don't know how to handle."

Scogna said even as someone in the health care profession, he doesn't fully understand the implications of the proposed changes.

"I'm just worried about it," he said.

Scogna did say estimates that as many as 22 million people would lose coverage under the U.S. Senate bill are "a little bit distorted."

That's because many people have so-called catastrophic coverage with deductibles in some cases as high as $20,000. As individuals have struggled to pay their hospital bills, that's led to "bad debt and free care" at hospitals across the country, he said.

"When they say 22 million will be uninsured, it's not terribly different than the way it's been," Scogna said.

Since the current health care law took effect, he said there's been challenges managing different methods of payment at Northwest Community. Insurance companies commonly pay for every test and daily hospital stay, but the new law triggered flat payments for people under the ACA.

"You have a foot in two different canoes. You're getting paid differently by whoever it is you're taking care of. It makes it very difficult to manage the organization. It makes it very difficult to really have predictability on how you're going to get paid."

Also Thursday during his presentation in Arlington Heights, Scogna reiterated the hospital's commitment to remaining independent, though it has partnered with other hospitals on various services such as Lurie Children's Outpatient Center.

Northwest Community still has a strong balance sheet, he said, even after completing a building addition and implementing an electronic medical records system.