Keep, Fix, or Repeal: What’s Next for Obamacare?

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CDPHP® president and CEO, Dr. John Bennett, was among the four panelists participating in today’s Healthcare Power Breakfast, hosted by the Albany Business Review. The event – “Keep, fix or repeal: What’s next for Obamacare?” – was a lively discussion about the future of the Affordable Care Act. Signed into law in 2010 and taking effect in 2014, the ACA was successful in expanding access to health care services, but did little to address the cost conundrum.

The event began with a question from Albany Business Review senior reporter, Mike DiMasi, who asked the group which name they prefer – Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Bennett said he prefers calling the law by its official name, the Affordable Care Act, because it reminds people of the true intent of the law, affordability, which has yet to be achieved.

DiMasi said one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act was to “bend the cost curve” but added that many agree that hasn’t happened. He asked the panelists why. Dr. Bennett said one of the unintended consequences of the ACA was that it increased provider consolidation. He said, “…instances where hospital consolidation has lowered costs are few and far between.” Paul Milton, CEO of Ellis Medicine, agreed with Bennett, saying that hospitals are a big part of the cost problem and that they need to decrease in size.

CEO of CapitalCare Medical Group, Joan Hayner, was also on this morning’s panel. She said the Affordable Care Act has helped hospitals and physician practices move away from fee-for-service and toward value-based payments (VBP), but added that CDPHP and CapitalCare have been doing this work since 2008 when the CDPHP Enhanced Primary Care program was launched. Last year, CDPHP announced that its EPC program, which rewards doctors for quality over quantity, produced a whopping $20.7 million in savings.

Hayner went on to say that one way the community CAN lower health care costs is by partnering with employer groups. Dr. Bennett agreed, saying CDPHP is currently partnering with local businesses – including CapitalCare Medical Group – on CDPHP Shared Health. The program, which provides large businesses the opportunity to collaborate to improve employee health and lower costs, allowed groups who have participated for a minimum of three years to realize 18 percent lower health care utilization costs compared to non-Shared-Health groups.

The event ended on a high note, with Dr. Bennett and the other panelists expressing their optimism about the future of health care, especially in our region.

“We have done great work with our provider partners,” Dr. Bennett said, adding that CDPHP will continue to find ways to team up with employers and health care providers to bring affordable care to our communities.

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