Michiana health leaders prescribe local effects of new health care act

The Affordable Health Care Act is still 18 months short of being implemented, but local health experts have been gearing up for the last couple of years.

NewsCenter 16’s Maureen McFaden sat down with key players in Michiana Thursday to talk about what this means for healthcare in our area.

The Affordable Health Care Act is designed to extend health coverage to some 32-million Americans now uninsured, bans insurers from discriminating against people with expensive ailments and require all Americans to buy insurance or pay penalties.

Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center CEO Al Guttierez, who has testified in Washington on the matter, says his hospital has been preparing for the last three years. .

“What it's going to mean is there will be more of an effort to look at the value of health care in terms of outcomes as opposed to getting things done,” he said. “Right now, the way the system is built we are procedure intensive…Consumers are going to be more astute purchasers of care since they'll be individually buying it.”

Memorial Health Care System CEO Phil Newbold agrees adding people will get better value and better care.

“We expect to see a great ramp up in the use of family care,” said Newbold. “We expect that people will get in and begin to see mammography screening, all kinds of prevention services and we're like to see maybe a little less use of the emergency room for all the episodic illness, and this is going to be a good thing that people have a primary care physician. Theyr'e inside the system and they can use preventive services.”

Dr. Jesse Hsieh who oversees more than 100 doctors as president and CEO of the South Bend Clinic says it's going to put more stress on primary care doctors, but the system is broken.

“We hope that the new system as it comes about allows physicians to help develop quality, to develop efficiency and develop accountability and we hope that the incentives that are set forth allow us to do that,” said Dr. Hsieh.

All three area experts point out the work in just beginning and there is still time for individuals to influence the future of health care.

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