Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar     Subscribe     Contact Us    


As Healthcare Evolves, We Must Address Challenges - and Preserve Our Progress


 

An important Open Enrollment deadline is quickly approaching. Tomorrow, December 15, is the last day to apply on HealthCare.gov for healthcare coverage beginning January 1, 2017.

Even as we prepare for the coming year, it is worth taking a look back at several significant events that occurred over the past few months. This fall, thousands of Tennesseans - including many of the people we serve - found themselves in a difficult situation when a major insurer decided to end individual marketplace plans in several cities, including Nashville. At the time, the other marketplace plans did not include Saint Thomas Health, which meant that when our patients switched to a different plan they would also have to switch to a different doctor. For a healthy person, choosing a new doctor can be frustrating. But for someone receiving care - the woman expecting her first child in January or the cancer patient who has three chemotherapy treatments left - it can be devastating.

For Saint Thomas Health, which is part of Ascension, the nation's largest non-profit healthcare system, the prospect of not being able to care for our current patients was unacceptable. We started negotiations with health insurance companies that still offered marketplace plans and quickly signed an agreement with Cigna. The agreement allows people who enrolled in a Cigna Connect plan to continue in-network care with Saint Thomas Health.

The Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010, ushered in a new era of healthcare. Many of the changes that were part of this law were welcome. More than 20 million people gained access to healthcare. People with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied health insurance, and women aren't charged more simply because they are women.

We also started to see a broad industry shift as health systems, such as ours, worked to meet the demands of this new era and better serve our patients. Step by step, we have been moving toward a future in which patients' care is better coordinated from visit to visit; where greater efficiency leads to lower costs; and where doctors and hospitals are paid based on the value they provide, not the number of patients they see or procedures they perform.

While we've made good progress, there are challenges that still need to be addressed. Approximately 29 million people across the country still cannot afford healthcare, either because the policy premiums are too expensive in the first place or because they cannot shoulder their high co-pays and deductibles.

But there are also opportunities ahead. The strategic decisions that our health system, and many others, have made to better integrate care and begin the transition to value-based payments are the right ones. Now, we must roll up our sleeves and begin a meaningful conversation with our newly elected officials, business and community leaders, and even our friends and family about how we can address these challenges - while also preserving the progress we've made.

As part of Ascension, we are blessed to have a leading voice on the national stage as we advocate for our goal of 100 percent access and 100 percent coverage. We are in the middle of great change, and sometimes it is hard to see where the road may lead. But in the midst of this uncertainty, one thing is certain: All Americans and all Tennesseans deserve access to affordable healthcare.

It is imperative that we advocate for healthcare legislation that serves our communities, and this means being heard both in Tennessee and nationally. No matter how healthcare evolves, Saint Thomas Health and Ascension will continue to advocate for 100 percent access and 100 percent coverage. And until that happens, we will turn our words into actions by providing care to all persons with special attention to those living in poverty and the most vulnerable among us.


Karen Springer is president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health and senior vice president and the Tennessee ministry market executive for Ascension Health, the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States.

 
Share:

Related Articles:


Recent Articles

TMA Issues Statement on Medicaid Block Grant Proposal

The largest professional organization for doctors in Tennessee has submitted its public comments regarding the proposal to convert federal funding for TennCare to a block grant.

Read More

Blackburn, McSally & Others Urge Improved Breast Cancer Screening for Servicewomen, Veterans

A bipartisan group of senators is urging the Pentagon to revamp breast cancer screening options for Tricare beneficiaries.

Read More

Gauging Reactions

Pros and cons to Gov. Lee's block grant proposal expressed by Tennessee's healthcare leaders.

Read More

Governor Rolls Out TennCare Modified Block Grant Proposal

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee looks to do something no state has done before in crafting a modified block grant to give the state more flexibility, share of savings in managing Medicaid.

Read More

Leadership Health Care Expands Programming to Boston

LHC took a slight detour from their annual D.C. Delegation and headed to Boston instead to study a healthcare ecosystem that differs from Nashville's own.

Read More

More than Just a Number

VUMC's Harvey Murff, MD, stays busy training providers, dispelling myths about geriatric care.

Read More

The Challenges of Identifying, Treating Behavioral Health Issues in the Geriatric Popu-lation

Comorbid conditions, often including some form of dementia, increases the challenge of pinpointing and treating behavioral health and substance abuse issues in older populations.

Read More

Senior Living Solutions Evolve to Meet Resident Needs

As residents' needs and acuity levels have risen, senior living solutions have had to evolve to meet new health and wellness challenges.

Read More

COA of Middle Tennessee Releases Eldercare Report

Caring for an elderly relative while working takes a toll on both employees and employers. COA is working to improve community supports.

Read More

Improving Senior Care across the Continuum

naviHealth ensuring better outcomes for better quality of life.

Read More

Email Print
 
 

 

 


Tags:
Affordable Care Act, Ascension Health, Karen Springer, Saint Thomas Health
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: