Obama Prevails: What it Means for Healthcare

President Barack Obama

Last night, Americans elected President Obama for a second term. D healthcare Daily editor Steve Jacob and assistant editor Jessica Melton talked with healthcare executives and physicians from across North Texas to get their thoughts on what impact this will have on the healthcare industry. Here’s their report:

Joel Allison; CEO, Baylor Health Care System: We are going to see continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act. There may be some challenges and ongoing discussion. But with a Republican House and Democratic Senate, I still see it going forward. The ACA primarily delegates the implementation to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and we will see that process continue.

Joe Allred; assistant vice president for venture development, UTSW Medical Center: Now we know that President Obama and Obamacare will be the basis for the healthcare policy in the coming years. We will continue to need technology for healthcare that leads toward the goals of more healthcare resources, better health outcomes, and health maintenance and technologies that contribute to all that while also helping control costs.  On the private side, we see venture investors who are not only looking for profitable opportunities but also looking for the cost implications. It will no longer be enough to add health benefits and add significant cost at the same time. Reducing overall cost while at the same time making a profitable commercial business is a formidable challenge.

Christopher Crow, M.D., founder of Village Health Partners and Legacy Medical Village: Care will continue to roll out at the same timeline, but Congress may lower some of the regulations, such as the advisory board, to be more bi-partisan. And he may scale back some of the subsidies in order to make adjustments related to the fiscal cliff.

Marianne Fazen; executive director, Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health: Healthcare in North Texas will continue its steady pace of transformation into a more accessible, accountable, value-driven system of organized care and  payment. The transformation process has been going on for awhile in this market, but the Affordable Care Act  seems to have kicked it into high gear by providing the needed disruption in the current system, which is facilitating  new ways to organize healthcare delivery systems, more efficient ways to coordinate care for better outcomes, and new payment models that reward superior performance. Many examples have been reported in D Healthcare Daily, and I’m sure we will read about many more in the next few years, as the ACA is fully implemented. The ACA is here to stay—perhaps with some tweaks and modest revisions to improve on the original—and patients, providers, and payers will be the better for it.

Jim Greenwood; CEO of Concentra Inc.:With Obama elected for a second term as president, the Affordable Care Act will continue to move forward, and some, if not all, elements will become the new normal. One of my primary concerns relates to how the implementation of the act is going to drive up employer costs in the years ahead, forcing more businesses to turn to insurance exchanges for employee health care coverage as a way to avoid high costs and/or steep fines. Furthermore, I believe that for individuals who gain coverage through the insurance exchanges, access to primary care will be a significant challenge. Most people do not realize how many physicians are opting out of Medicare today, and reimbursement through the exchanges will likely be a discount to Medicare rates. As such, the concierge medicine model will gain traction, resulting in two distinct and disparate models for care in the United States.

Doug Hawthorne; CEO of Texas Health Resources: The most effective healthcare reform will happen through collaboration at the local level among health systems, physicians, employers, and payers.  Texas Health will continue to move forward with the health care reform strategy that we began almost five years ago to transform our organization from a hospital system to a health system. We must inspire change in the way people think about their own health and well-being.  That is the only way we can improve the health of our people, reform health care, and bend the cost curve of health care away from its upward trajectory.

Cheryl Camin Murray; Shareholder, Winstead PC: The Affordable Care Act will remain intact, which will result in the publishing of regulations, providing guidance on this law, for years to come. Our healthcare system has changed and will continue to change, with a focus on promoting quality while decreasing cost and expanding coverage.  The means of accomplishing these goals may be governed by different laws than we see today. However, there will remain a focus on healthcare technology.  In addition, alternative healthcare delivery structures, such as accountable care organizations, medical homes, retail and employer-sponsored clinics, and wellness initiatives will continue regardless of who resides in the White House.

Russ Williamson; President & CEO, The Health Industry CouncilProviders in North Texas have had a keen focus on improving the quality of care delivery. I believe we will continue to see a high level of passion and hard work by the healthcare industry and physicians to create new and innovative ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of care provided in this region.

Hubert K. Zajicek; Managing Director, NTEC Inc.: With another four years of President Obama at the helm, the medtech startup scene has to be ready to deal with more regulations and more managed care. Angel investors & VCs will remain timid regarding startups. Furthermore, the medical device tax looms large over the medtech industry. Although I have high hopes it will be repealed, it has, at least for the moment, set a negative tone. As always, where there is change, there is also opportunity. Entrepreneurs always adapt.