'Patient Choice' will be on the 2014 South Dakota ballot - KOTA Territory News

'Patient Choice' will be on the 2014 South Dakota ballot

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Next November, one of the measures you will be able to decide on the South Dakota ballot, will be an initiated measure called 'Patient Choice'.  Almost 23,000 valid signatures were gathered and certified in just six weeks, in order to place it on the November, 2014 ballot.

Today, Dr. Steve Eckrich, M.D., one of three physician sponsors in the state, explained how the measure would work.  It would not only allow the patient to choose what doctor to see and what medical facility to use, but also would apply to any service or product paid for by an insurance company, even a prosthetic.

Rapid City nurse, Mike Stevenson, spoke in support of 'Patient Choice'.  He lost an eye as a child.  With no one in the state to make his prosthetic eye, he worked with Black Hills Eye Institute.  The Eye Institute was out-of-network, but agreed to accept the lower in-network price for the prosthetic, but the insurance company denied it.  Stevenson was forced to pay over $2,000 more than he would have had to pay if 'Patient Choice' were law.

Mike Stevenson says, "If you look back 20 years, everyone had a small town doctor, and saw the same doctor your whole life. Now if an insurance company comes in, you have to see someone else. That makes no sense."

Dr. Steve Eckrich, M.D. doesn't understand the opposition. "I have a hard time understanding why anyone would be against the concept of a patient being able to choose the provider they want to see, that they have an established relationship with. That is what provides for the best care. So if it's not going to increase costs, which it's not, why would anyone oppose such a measure?

Rapid City Regional Hospital and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield have opposed this effort, as have the two big hospitals in Sioux Falls that also own insurance companies,  Avera and Sanford.  All successfully opposed the measure in the last South Dakota legislative session.  That's why Eckrich and others decided to take this effort to the voting public.

The opposition maintains in-network insurance pricing works because it guarantees a certain volume of patients.  They say this initiated measure would increase medical costs for everyone.

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