ETX doctor on healthcare reform: 'Give it a chance' - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

ETX doctor on healthcare reform: 'Give it a chance'

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Changes to the nation's healthcare system have been a controversial topic in the last month, with particular attention being paid to what has largely been considered a failed launch of the government's insurance website.

But one Tyler doctor said that even with the delays, reform is a good thing.

Dr. Gary Gross is a medical oncologist, practicing in Tyler for the past 29 years. For him, the healthcare debate breaks down to two issues.

The moral issue: "We are the richest country in the world," Gross said. "Yet we have fully one out of every five citizens that doesn't have insurance. I have people come in that have never missed a day's work. They work 40 or 50 hours a week and they don't have insurance."

Then the economical issue: "We're all paying every time somebody goes to the emergency room for a problem they could have gone to a family doctor to if they had a family doctor," Gross said.

That is especially true in Texas, which has a nation-topping 28.8% of uninsured citizens. Not to mention a recent study that claims by 2016, many could be paying nearly half of their annual salaries towards healthcare premiums.

That's something Texas' Republican Public Health Chair Lois Kolkhorst can agree with.

"The trajectory we're going with healthcare costs cannot be sustained," she said. "Healthcare professionals all over the US say this."

But reform is off to a rocky start. A failed website rollout has now prompted politicians on both sides of the aisle to request the mandate for coverage be delayed.

There is also concern that not enough healthy young people will enroll in the system, opting to instead pay the penalty. That could drive insurance premiums up even more.

"You have to make the penalty stiffer if you want people to do something they don't want to do," Gross said. When asked if that is the resolution, he responded, "that is a resolution."

Gross said he just wants people to give the reforms a chance.

"It's the best we've got now, and we need something," he said. "We don't have a healthcare system. We have a broken down engine that's going to completely stall out and die on the road in the near future."

Currently, the White House maintains that individuals will have until March 31, 2014 to secure an insurance plan without facing penalties.

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