“Only Dialogue Will Develop Viable Long-Term Solutions; Healthcare Is Not an Either/Or Situation Between a Private and Public Payer System”
Healthcare is a complex issue and by examining the issues, the Westchester County business community is on the right track. But it needs to keep going, according to M. Beatrice Grause, president of the Healthcare Association of New York (HANYS), who challenged attendees to WCA’s HealthTech ’17 conference on October 12, to speak out and be heard when it comes to healthcare policy...
...“Healthcare is complicated; there are issues of economic growth, poverty, and race,” Ms. Grause said. “But politicians have made most people believe that healthcare is an ‘either/or’ situation between a private and public payer system. If you accept that ‘either/or’ narrative, you will surely become a victim of it. The American people have to live with the system while working for something new. That’s a necessary process. Only dialogue will develop viable long-term solutions.”
Ms. Grause gave the morning keynote address, “Taking New York Forward on Healthcare: The Opportunities and Challenges.” She pointed out during her address that healthcare consumes one out of every five dollars in the US. "It consumes state budgets and brings headaches around the kitchen table.” She went on to explain that, at the end of the day, the direction of healthcare in the US boils down to three things...
... cost, quality of care, and access.
The Issue Is in the Tissue The healthcare debate now raging in Washington and across the country brings up more questions than answers. But with skyrocketing rates, healthcare costs can’t be solved as much as managed. “The issue is in the tissue,” Ms. Grause said. "Issues like obesity, the opioid epidemic, and an aging population are continually changing needs and increasing spending.
“A healthy country is a more financially sound country. Right now, the US is in a situation where it needs to determine how to parse resources between prevention and treatment.” At the same time “we have to manage how innovations are going to impact the entire healthcare system; otherwise, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Grause explained that healthcare is shifting to a patient-centered system in which consumers want to use their cell phones or computers to receive healthcare on their own terms.
“But is the investment in technology reducing spending and increasing care? The jury is still out,” she cautioned. To be effective, innovation has to get to the core of the patient-provider space. All the gadgets in the world are useless unless we have healthier behavior and healthier communities.
Trying to Find Solutions In the United States, the government’s spending on healthcare has been growing faster than the ability to cover that spending which is crowding out other priorities. The repeated efforts to repeal ACA have been a high wire act and it is expected to continue. “Cuts without policy changes threaten to take us backward,” Ms. Grause said. “When people have less coverage they wind up in the emergency room.”
She pointed out that the private sector is on a journey towards changing provider/payer relationships, reduce spending, and reduce time. The current system is largely transactional-based which means healthcare facilities need volume to cover their budgets. Proposed system redesigns are good for patients, but present a challenge for providers.
How do we find our role to change the narrative when the political left doesn’t want to talk about entitlement growth and the right doesn’t want to talk about people on Medicaid?
“We have to look at all sides. But even without tax cuts, it will take budget to support innovation and opportunities. We need business leaders to help us to fix the entire delivery system and help guide the process in Washington. Challenge legislators to address questions about managing the realities we face as a society and the need for a balanced budget. There’s much that could be better, but only if we work for it. The next generation has high expectations of us.”