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ASF Board Member Paul Levy is the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (and a blogger extraordinaire). Last night, he spoke about health care reform on NECN — click here to watch.

We’ve transcribed some provocative segments from Levy’s interview below. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

On public vs. private: “There’s an approach that’s used in the Netherlands, which has universal health care access, where they use private insurance companies, strongly regulated, that have to provide insurance to all under very clear conditions. Everyone has to get insurance. Those companies compete and the public benefits from that. The problem with a public option — which is to say, a government plan so-called ‘competing’ with private insurance companies — is there’s no way you can have real competion there. The government plan will have access to tax-free money, they won’t be subject to regulation by all 50 states . . . what I think we’ll see, if we have a public option, is a gradual movement to, in fact, a single-payer plan, and I’m not sure that’s the best way to go.” 

On the things everyone is concerned about when it comes to health care: “1. Everybody wants to have insurance — obviously, that’s important. 2. They want to be protected from egregious or nasty practices of insurance companies — preexisting conditions, losing your insurance because you get sick, those kinds of things. You can do both of those very effectively without a public plan.”

On why higher taxes might not be the end of the world: “My view is, if we want a national plan that gives everybody insurance and we know we need to subsidize low-income people,  if it’s a national priority to do that, the way to pay for it is by tax increases. Now nobody in Washington wants to talk about that, but we raise taxes when we do other things that are a national priority. And here I think the admin and some members of congress are trying to give the impression that you can give access and control costs and give everybody choice. You can’t do all three.”

On the U.S.’s primary care system: “We don’t have the best healthcare in the world. What we have is superb secondary and tertiary care, which is to say hospitals. But we’ve neglected the primary care system, and if you look at Europe and other parts of the world, what they’re really done is build up a superb primary care system — which does save money for society, because it means that patients are cared for in their doctors offices more often, and referred less often to specialists who do expensive tests and expensive procedures. If we made a change along that way, that would go a long way . . . that would truly save money, and would also give people, I think, a better sense of security that someone had  time to spend with them in the office, instead of 18 minutes before you’re shunted off to a specialist.”

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