What’s Next for Health Care Reform?

What’s Next for Health Care Reform?

By Brian Tabor, President, Indiana Hospital Association

The future of health care reform may be uncertain, but Indiana hospitals remain focused on providing high-quality care. 

 

Brian Tabor

After the American Health Care Act failed to be brought up for a vote in late March, many were left wondering what was next for our nation’s health care system. As Congress and the Trump administration continue dialogue about repealing the Affordable Care Act, the debate about how best to replace the comprehensive legislation may not end anytime soon. Policymakers must consider a number of factors as they work to reform America’s health care system, from how to continue to provide health care coverage for the tens of millions of Americans who have gained coverage, to ways to ensure providers are adequately reimbursed for the cost of providing care.

Despite the uncertainty, the Indiana Hospital Association and its 170 member hospitals will continue to focus on the delivery of quality care. The health care industry cannot wait to find out what happens; it must continue implementing innovative quality programs, improving patient safety, and working tirelessly to make life better for all Hoosiers.

IHA has been actively advocating for Indiana hospitals and patients during this uncertain time. Our chief concerns include maintaining coverage, opposing further payment cuts and allowing delivery system reform to continue.

We Must Maintain Coverage

We should strive to increase, not decrease, the number of Hoosiers who have meaningful health care coverage. Indiana’s uninsured rate is at a historic low today, down more than 3 percent from 2014 to 2015. Through the innovative Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0 program, 350,000 previously uninsured Hoosiers are now eligible for comprehensive, affordable coverage. Also, approximately 200,000 Hoosiers have gained insurance through the federal insurance exchange. We must, at a minimum, maintain current coverage levels in our state, or hundreds of thousands of citizens could lose access to preventative care and become at risk for a personal medical and financial crisis.

No More Cuts

Further payment cuts are not sustainable and would have dire consequences. Medicare reimbursement for hospitals has already been substantially cut under the ACA. Through 2015, these cuts (along with other subsequent legislative and regulatory reductions) have totaled almost $1.5 billion in Indiana alone. More cuts would lead to key service lines, such as obstetrics, being scaled back or dropped, forcing Hoosiers to travel longer for treatment. Further reductions could also threaten the very existence of safety net hospitals in rural and underserved areas, jeopardizing access to care for the elderly and most vulnerable.

Delivery System Reform Should Continue

To the extent possible, delivery reform should not be disrupted. The ACA contained provisions for testing new approaches to health care delivery and reimbursement, creating alternatives to the current fee-for-service system in the transition to a value-based model. Hospitals are committed to this journey, taking part in accountable care organizations, quality payment programs, and innovation models. We are asking lawmakers to preserve pathways for these important population health initiatives to continue.

Though health care laws and acronyms may change, Indiana hospitals will continue to innovate, collaborate and focus on delivering the highest quality care for our patients and communities.

Category Features, Last Word

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