October 1995 Bulletin

Senate candidate says Congress must ensure access

Congress must ensure that the health care system provides access to quality care and allows medical specialists to function in the best manner for their patients, says Illinois Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra.

He believes in the concepts of managed care and health maintenance organizations, but he is not happy about the restrictions on patient access.

While Kustra is aware of the issue on a state level, he also is looking at it from a national perspective because he is seeking the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Sen. Paul Simon.

Kustra told an informal gathering of members of the Illinois Orthopaedic Society and Academy staff just weeks before formally announcing his candidacy that he believes future historians will look back at this period of American political life and find it was a time of great importance.

It will be seen as a time when Congress decided that "the centralized bureaucratic government did not work and had to be scaled back and redistributed to state and local governments, but in a way that works," he said.

Although he believes that "we must get government out of the way," he suggested that regulation of HMOs may be needed to protect the patient and the doctor. "Sure, we can lower cost and eliminate unnecessary procedures, but we must also preserve quality of patient care," he said.

Kustra expressed concern about the power of third-party payers and the "obscene profits" of some HMOs.

William J. Robb III, MD, president of the Illinois Orthopaedic Society, opened the meeting by observing that Kustra had always been sensitive to the medical community.

Dr. Robb and William W. Tipton Jr., MD, executive vice president of the Academy, told Kustra that he could count on the Illinois association and Academy to provide him with "good information and objective views" on issues he may encounter in Congress.

William W. Tipton, Jr., MD, executive vice president of the Academy, left, and William J. Robb III, MD, president of the Illinois Orthopaedic Society, right, discusses health care issues with Illinois Lt. Gov. Robert Kustra, who is running for U.S. Senate.

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