Survey finds that 93 percent of hospital executives think Obamacare will improve systems and save costs

While there has been much grumbling about federal health reform, at least one very affected group of people think it’s a great idea. A survey by Health Affairs found that 93 percent of hospital executives believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will make health care better, and cheaper, Ezra Klein reports for The Washington Post.

The magazine surveyed 74 senior executives at hospitals that had an average of 8,520 employees, and annual revenues of $1.5 billion, Klein reports. The survey found that 65 percent felt that by 2020 “the healthcare
system as a whole will be somewhat or significantly better than it is
today,” and “93 percent predicted that the
quality of care provided by their own health system would improve. This
is probably related to efforts to diminish hospital acquired conditions,
medication errors, and unnecessary re-admissions, as encouraged by
financial penalties in the ACA.” (Health Affairs graphic)

Executives also responded to favorably to other questions about reform, with 91 percent forecasting “improvements on metrics of cost within their own health system” and “85 percent expected their organization to have
reduced its per patient operating costs” by 2020, Klein writes. “Overall, the average operating cost reduction expected was 11.7 percent,
with a range from 0 percent to 30 percent. Most executives
believed they could save an even higher percentage if Congress enacted
legislation to accelerate the shift away from fee-for-service payment
toward models like bundled payments. In such a case, the executives projected average annual savings of 16.0 percent, which, if applied across the healthcare system, would amount to savings of nearly $100 billion per year.”

Respondents said savings can be achieved “through a combination of greater administrative efficiency,
price reductions, and reduced reliance on hospital services,” Klein reports. About 54 percent said this can be done by reducing the number of hospitalizations, 49 percent by reducing, re-admissions, 39 percent by reducing emergency room visits, 36 percent by reducing costs for medical devices, 27 percent by reducing costs for drugs, and 23 percent by improving office efficiency.

About 31 percent of respondents said another goal is to set “a specified timeline for transitioning Medicare reimbursement
off of the fee-for-service payment system as a policy change that would
facilitate cost control,” Klein writes. “Another 30 percent supported aligning payment
policies between Medicare and private insurers, and 28 percent supported
separating funds for training and research from Medicare payment and
maintaining current funding levels.” (Read more)

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