Unemployment is about to top 10%. The
growing federal deficit is top-of-mind for every American. Foreclosures,
credit card debt…all up. The nation is approaching $2.5 trillion in health care
spending. Health insurance premiums are rising as benefits shrink. With every
lost job the ranks of the uninsured swell; by some estimates 50 million people.
Across the country
there’s consensus that the current health care system, albeit provider, payer, supplier,
consumer or government, needs to be fixed. The balance between access, cost and
quality is off kilter. Medicare and Medicaid spending levels are unsustainable.
Payment and reimbursement schemes are misaligned, as are incentives for
consumers to take advantage of preventive and wellness measures that promote a healthy
But, is this the right
time for health reform? Do we have the political will to make it happen, the
commitment to make it work, and the money to pay for it?
There’s a long history
around changing the American health care system. Not too long ago a young actor-turned-politician
joined forces with the nation’s medical establishment to address health reform.
Fast forward to
another young, aggressive Presidential statesman with the idea that the time
was right for health care reform. And, his chosen ambassador to advance the
cause was the First Lady.
OK – that didn’t work
so well. When the next administration took over, they successfully squeezed a prescription
drug benefit into the Medicare program. However after that, the feeling was
that our health care system was on solid ground (as was the rest of the economy), so why not leave well enough alone.
Now, along comes
Obamacare. Stoked by campaign promises and personal drive to solve one of the
nation’s most challenging problems, President Barack Obama is pushing hard to
make health reform a reality in the first year of his administration.
Despite tough opposition
from a fragmented Republican party looking for unity around making health
reform Obama’s downfall (i.e., his Waterloo), pundits are predicting a signing
ceremony before the New Year.
There are a lot of
proposals and new terms floating around Washington―public plan, insurance
exchange, Accountable Care Organization and benefit gateway. These and many
other details are being debated as special interests line-up to negotiate their
“policy positions” (aka: what’s in it for
me ).In one of the most politically divisive environments the
country has ever seen, have no doubt that the health and insurance reform controversy
will intensify. Be prepared to follow the debate and anticipate how health reform
will impact your business …because it
Following is a quick resource guide providing links to a variety
of perspectives and insights on health reform –
As you can see, there are a lot of opinions
being put forth and just as many decisions that need to be made. For those of
you heavily invested in the health care sector, professionally and personally, reform
proposals point to an obvious theme – CHANGE. Over the next 12 to 24 months you
will be pressed to rethink core business assumptions and reengineer products,
services and operations. Tracking the reform debate will enable you to anticipate
the timing of change, develop strategic “impact” scenarios, identify new
opportunities, and help make informed decisions about future success and
vulnerabilities. Stay tuned.