Neurosurgeon Ann Stroink of Bloomington said she makes a trip to Washington nearly every month. She's a volunteer advocate for her professional groups, not a professional lobbyist.
Speaking on the 21st Show, Stroink said she tells elected representatives stories about her practice and the challenges she sees.
She said the biggest concern in her office is delay in insurance approval to do treatment.
"Hey I have a patient in my office. He has a brain tumor and he came in with a cane because for the last week he had progressive difficulty with walking. And so everything was OK until we got the patient to the hospital and then the insurance company said, 'Oh by the way, we're not paying for the image that you need to actually do the surgery,'" said Stroink.
Stroink said there is bipartisan acceptance that healthcare is a big ticket item that will not go away overnight. But she's frustrated at the slow pace of change.
Stroink said her professional associations also worry about surprise billing, in which a patient who encounters a need for tests or procedures outside their hometown doesn't realize they are not being covered for a service when they go to the hospital.
"The amount of those bills can be high. You can be run out of your house and home over something like that. And so that needs to be immediately addressed," said Stroink.
Stroink said young physicians tend to think about professional development and their patients. Later in their careers, she said physicians think about making the system better. Even though she is engaged in the healthcare debate as an advocate, Stroink said had she been so years ago, she might have become directly involved in politics.
Stroink was the first woman neurosurgery resident at the Mayo Clinic.
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