Duval County Republicans Debate Health Care; the Group's Policy Analyst Warned the Democrat's Plan Is a "Fool's Paradise."

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Byline: STEVE PATTERSON

Heartfelt opposition to President Barack Obama's health care reform plan came side-by-side with calls for smaller, pragmatic changes during a Duval County Republican Party forum Wednesday evening.

"The Democrat plan to fix health care is a fool's paradise. ... Now is not the time for Mr. Obama's public option," warned Robin Lumb, a health care policy analyst for the party.

About 175 people came to a police union hall on Beach Boulevard where Lumb, two doctors and two benefits specialists talked about how the president's plan would affect medicine and ordinary people.

A common theme was that the plan would create new costs - in taxes or insurance premiums -without curing underlying waste in the medical industry.

"There's a huge opportunity there in eliminating the waste," said William Carriere, a Jacksonville doctor.

He told the group that doctors spend far too much time creating records to satisfy complex billing procedures by which Medicare and insurance companies pay them.

"The payment system that we have drives waste," Carriere said. He said that with any federal reform plans, "if it doesn't drive payment reform, it's just going to be throwing away money."

A hot point in the talk was concern that Obama's plan would allow government agencies too much access to people's medical and financial records.

Paul Shirley, an orthopedic surgeon, said more details of patient records, as well as tax information, would become available to federal agencies through portions of a House of Representatives reform bill.

That opens a door to government workers misusing the information, regardless of the original intent in making it available, he said. …