From the questions that came from doctors, hospital administrators and other health care workers, it was apparent that Dr. Charles Yockey was speaking to an audience well aware of severe problems in the nation's health care delivery system.
Yockey, chief of staff at Watkins Memorial Health Center at Kansas University, spoke at Lawrence Memorial Hospital this morning in his role as chairman of the Kansas Health and Public Policy Committee of the American College of Physicians (ACP).
Yockey said the ACP is preparing a recommendation on what he described as a crisis in access to health care in the nation.
His presentation was aimed both at describing the problem and getting information from people on the front lines of health care.
Some ACP statistics Yockey cited were startling.
For example, he said between 1978 and 1986, the number of people in the United States without health insurance increased 43 percent; between 31 and 37 million people in the nation currently have no health insurance; and one in four citizens either has no health insurance or has inadequate health insurance.
"TWO-THIRDS of the uninsured are full-time workers," he added.
Yockey also pointed out that the United States spends $650 billion a year, or 12 percent of the nation's gross national product, on health care. But he said that 22 percent of that cost is not directly related to health care treatment, but involves such things as marketing, health care providers' profits, or governmental paperwork.
"The system is broken and it must be fixed," Yockey said.
Robert Ohlen, LMH executive director, used instances from the hospital to exemplify what causes some problems. He said 27 percent of LMH's costs are not related to medical treatment.
"We were required to add 14 people to the payroll" to deal with federally required paperwork, he said.
Dr. Donald Hatton, LMH chief of staff, asked about the potential rationing of health care because of the emormous costs of health care for the very old, for example.
Although Yockey said he is not aware of ACP work in that area, he added that Hatton's question led to an important point.
"I BELIEVE something must be done to increase the amount of money (for health care), something must be done for (to lower costs of) medical malpractice, and something must be done to cut administration cost," he said.
"But no one is proposing a program to determine just what is adequate health care," he added.