Expert: Health care landscape already changed, despite what Supreme Court decision is this week

Whether or not the federal health-care reform law is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow, initiatives are already in place that will change the way health care is delivered, an expert said at a Lexington conference Tuesday. Gregg Nunziata, senior director at research and consulting firm The Advisory Board in Washington, D.C., “said the burgeoning number of baby boomers entering retirement, the ever-accelerating advances in technology and the increasing public health crisis that finds more and more Americans with chronic illness such as diabetes, are fundamentally changing how health care works in America,” reports Mary Meehan for the Lexington Herald-Leader. As people age, they are “demanding a different kind of care, and they will be living long into their golden years,” he said. When they become seniors, who already tend to cast their vote, they will become a powerful voting bloc.

Health officials are looking at ways to cut down on costs, which is necessary because “the government is the major funding source, and the major funding source is broke,” Nunziata said. To cut costs, the government and insurers are looking at new ways to pay for health care. One example is the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare scoring hospitals based on their performance and paying them accordingly. “A low score could reduce payments by only 1 percent or 2 percent,” Meehan reports, but that can translate to a multi-million dollar loss. “Every hospital is being judged and Washington is keeping score,” he said.
Bundling payments is another method being tried, in which one flat fee covers all of the care that is provided in a procedure. “The idea would be to force more efficient and cost-effective care by encouraging cooperation,” Meehan reports. (Read more)

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