The end of the 2012 race for the White House opens a new chapter in the movement to bring reform to America’s health care system. Several thoughts come to mind as the health care debate morphs into the reality that the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, will remain as a permanent part of our social and health care fabric.
For one, there is a certain finality surrounding ACA. It will take its place alongside Medicare and Medicaid as the last major effort of the
federal government to provide health care coverage to a large segment of Americans. Second, a diverse group of businesses, health care providers of all types, state governments and individuals can begin to craft workable approaches to this new reality.
These approaches will include implementation and modification but are not likely to include serious efforts to repeal. Such course setting is extraordinarily important and helpful. Markets react well to certainty. Humans find comfort in what’s familiar and that expectations we know will be maintained.
Long ago I used to officiate basketball. Early in my training I worked a game between two inner city rival schools. In the heyday of run and gun basketball, the speed, grace and power of these exceptional 14-year-old athletes was amazing. The gym was packed to the rafters like a district playoff game. The frenetic pace, the noise and the newness of the experience was almost overwhelming. I missed some easy calls and quickly found myself on the wrong side of both coaches’ temperaments. One coach kept saying, “Just call the game the same on both ends and give us a chance to coach our kids to victory.”
I have never forgotten that comment. He wanted consistency, even certainty, on how the game was being officiated. He had confidence that once the officiating environment was set, he could navigate his team to success.
With certainty comes the ability to plan ahead and make intelligent decisions that are likely, but not necessarily guaranteed, to produce good outcomes. For three years the uncertainty of the election has left hospitals, insurance companies and many others in a collective holding pattern. Uncertainty stifles creativity. Both organizations and individuals loath to embark on a new journey if there remains the nagging fear of wasted effort. Predictability is a bedrock principle.
Two colloquialisms support the certainty principle: “the sun will rise tomorrow” and “the only thing certain is death and taxes.” The former presents a forum for hope in a better day ahead. The later provides the comforting assurance that some things never change, whether we like it or not.
Like the sun rising, there are many good things about ACA. Thirty million more Americans will have some form of health insurance by 2014. Pre-existing conditions and life-time coverage limits that often bankrupt individuals and families are no longer part of the insurance coverage landscape. Preventive screenings for such things as breast cancer and cholesterol testing must be done with no out-of-pocket costs to individuals.
There is more to like, such as incentives for providers to invest in IT solutions like Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchanges. Both will produce a seamless sharing of patient information leading to more efficient and effective medical treatments. Other incentives encourage migration to medical homes, improvements to consistency and quality of heath care delivery and a focus on better patient outcomes.
As with death and taxes, not all of ACA is so rosy. The biggest uncertainty involves ACA’s cost. President Obama has touted it as the key to reducing government expenditures, mostly through lower utilization and higher quality outcomes. Not only are these promised reductions seriously in doubt, but there is the unsatisfying certainty that ACA brings more taxes, more federal government bureaucracy, unfunded mandates and serious restraints on religious organizations. Imposing unwelcomed taxes is one thing, but infringement on religious liberty is extremely troubling.
In addition, there is the chance of higher insurance premiums for many individuals and the uncertainty of how businesses will react toward maintaining insurance coverage for employees. All of this is coupled with the nagging concern that the private sector is far better equipped to develop and affordably sustain real innovation in health care.
The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. It is now up to politicians of both parties, industry providers and to us as individuals to adapt and embrace the opportunities to reduce costs, improve quality and increase access for all Americans. As the sun rises tomorrow, I have faith in our ability to make it happen.
William F. “Bud” Barrow is president and CEO of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center and its entities. Barrow has more than 30 years of experience in health care administration in multiple states. He serves as chairman of the Regional Policy Board of the American Hospital Association and is a board member and past president of the Louisiana Hospital Association.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, April 17, 2014:
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The must have pieces this season
Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
It’s not how aggressive or conservative you are — it’s planning for risk that matters most.
Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.