MARQUETTE - U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, visited Marquette General Hospital this morning to talk with staff about what he sees as challenges to the health care system.
Benishek expressed particular concern about Medicare reimbursement cuts as a result of the Affordable Care Act, noting Marquette County is facing $133 million in cuts over the next 10 years.
Benishek also said he was concerned about some northern Michigan hospitals having to reduce staff.
U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, (left), meets with Marquette General Hospital Chief Executive Officer Ed Banos this morning at the hospital to share his concerns about health care. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)
"Hospitals are laying people off to stay viable," Benishek said.
Benishek said he wants to hear how hospitals are dealing with the financial challenges.
"I want to make sure we continue to have access to health care," he said.
Marquette General Hospital, Benishek pointed out, might be large enough to absorb financial losses, but smaller hospitals might not be so fortunate.
The congressman, who also is a surgeon, said he understands hospitals' fiscal problems.
During his visit to Marquette General, Benishek met with hospital CEO Ed Banos, who said education regarding health care is necessary because of the changing dynamics.
However, Banos said he was pleased with the hospital's relationship with its owner, Duke LifePoint.
"The partnership with Duke LifePoint has been a very positive one," Banos said. "We have a strong foundation."
Banos did note that problems remain, such as Medicare not covering all hospital costs.
Benishek acknowledged his concern.
"These guys in Washington don't want to hear your story at all," he said.
To alleviate that issue, Benishek told Banos his office can write letters and make telephone calls to make their concerns known.
Banos said, "We know we have an advocate in Washington, and we appreciate that."
Banos also said a site for the new hospital should be made within the next 45 days, stressing the current facility is cumbersome in its layout, but space is limited.
"You just don't have a lot of opportunity to expand," Banos said.
Christie Black can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.