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KENNETH E. BELL, Medical director of Kaiser Permanente, Orange County


My uncle Monty had (a doctor's) office in New York City, in which people came and they knew that he would take care of them. What he couldn't do, he would send them to the next level and it would be done. Very personal and very specific. The primary care physician takes care of not just your ear or female organs, but everything. He or she takes care of you and your family and your children and your parents and all the rest. It is the best way to organize health care.

What do you say to skittish businessmen who are worried about paying more in health care costs?

This is important. There will be subsidies for small business people and we are going to offer them a healthier work force. As simple as that sounds, it is a reality. It's my expectation that they will have a work force that will be at work more often. The costs will eventually end up a wash.

On benefits of health care reform. . .

"I don't think HMOs will be the major beneficiary of health care reform. I think people will be the major beneficiary of health care reform."

On reputation of doctors. . .

"Businessmen are furious at us. They say, 'We can't deal with you guys anymore. You are a doctor, therefore you are bad.' To them, there are as many doctor jokes as lawyer jokes."

On the rising cost of health care in America. . .

"I have become very sensitive to the fact that health care--the cost of health care--has become obscene."

On the need for more primary care physicians. . .

"It is my belief that by stressing primary medicine as part of an organized system, we will deliver better care. The more primary care physicians that are graduated and go into that specialty, the better off we are going to be in the country."

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