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Yes, It's Complicated, and Yes, You Still Have To Pay Attention

October 17, 2009
by Mark Hagland
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Average laypeople from outside the healthcare industry could be forgiven for short attention spans when it comes to the incredibly complex process taking place these days around federal healthcare reform legislation. The whole process is so multi-faceted and so complicated that it's no wonder average citizens are baffled. And the fact that the mainstream media continue often to focus on the more superficial and political aspects of the process adds to the exhaustion factor for the general public. But for those of us inside the healthcare industry, there simply is no excuse not to keep abreast of developments, as trying as it might feel at times. As was reinforced for me in the interview I did earlier this week with Blair Childs of Premier Inc. (see the web-exclusive interviews on this website), there is a tremendous amount going on below the level of newspaper and broadcast headlines, inside the healthcare reform universe, and a huge amount of that will profoundly impact hospital organizations nationwide. Among the proposed elements that could soon become law are value-based purchasing under Medicare; bundled payments for hospitals and other providers; and such innovations as "accountable care groups." And while many of these proposed elements still have yet to be fleshed out, here's the bottom line on them collectively: below the level of debate over health insurance reform issues such as a public option or an individual mandate, there's a tremendous level of bipartisan support in Congress for reimbursement reform, as I've mentioned in several recent articles. And that reimbursement reform could, far sooner than many might think, affect your hospital organization. So it behooves all of us to pay attention, even when it might seem more like an intrusion on our already-overloaded professional plates. Because, sooner than you can say "Medicare mandate," some of those innovations may be the law of the land.

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