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State health head gets earful on issues

DPH seeking input on five priorities

DPH Director John Auerbach concludes his talk with an artistic analogy, noting people often see the health care situation as if it were one of these two paintings. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
April 04, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — In one of seven statewide priority-setting forums, State Department of Public Health director John Auerbach got an earful last week from area folks concerned about improving regional well being.

"What I hear is fragmented care," said Webster nurse Angela Beeler, referring to the fact so many people "can't find the resources and bring them together" to be healthy. She argued the state needs a truly comprehensive care system, one that coordinates physical, mental and dental aspects with a wide array of social services.

Although the state has started a "wrap-around" system for children needing services, Auerbach noted the system is generally "disjointed" overall. That's in part because some major insurers won't pay for several long-term and/or preventive things (he gave the example of nicotine replacement) because the fiscal savings won't show up for years — possibly long enough for the person to have switched from the private insurer to Medicare, he said.

He said that in response to a question about a legislative bill proposing a single-payer system. He observed, "there are certain advantages to single payer," chief among them being the ability to designate long-term things as core benefits.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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