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Leading Experts Shed Light on Healthcare Reform

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The top leaders of the California Hospital Association (CHA) and CAPG, a national professional association of physician groups, offered insight into the challenges and opportunities of healthcare reform at a public forum sponsored by Antelope Valley Medical Center (AVMC).

CHA President and CEO Duane Dauner outlined the many forces impacting healthcare reform, including the political environment in Washington DC and the competing budget priorities. He explained what the replacement of the Affordable Care Act with the American Healthcare Act would mean for Medicare and Medicaid recipients as well as for healthcare providers in California and nationwide. While acknowledging that "there is much uncertainty as the nation waits to see what unfolds," Dauner assured forum attendees that "you’re in good hands with the leadership at Antelope Valley Medical Center. I encourage you to get involved in a way that supports the board and hospital in creating an organization that can deliver care well into the future."

In his presentation, CAPG President and CEO Donald Crane discussed what he considers two key factors affecting American healthcare: the escalating costs and the efforts of government to transfer more of the risk (to efficiently manage a patient’s health) to health plans and healthcare providers. "The costs associated with healthcare crowd out other expenditures the government might want to make in other areas," he said. "New approaches to healthcare are going to be needed to drive behavior – both on the part of providers as well as consumers."

Both presenters discussed many of the inefficiencies in today’s healthcare system while agreeing that everyone needs to have a stake in reducing healthcare costs, especially consumers. Unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices are the most significant determinant of health status and healthcare costs. "If we want to minimize the need for healthcare services, we need to take better care of ourselves," noted Dauner. "We need to work together to create an environment in which people take responsibility for their own health when it comes to exercise, eating properly, not smoking and having proper health screenings."

The formal presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session in which forum attendees responded to questions from attendees. A number of physicians on the AVMC medical staff as well as other community members took advantage of the opportunity to share their views on current healthcare system and to dialogue with the speakers about issues of local interest.