By Claire Cowart Haltom
A year ago, health-care reform was signed into law, marking a historic event for our nation. That historic event also opened up an unprecedented opportunity for Nashville to further develop its title as the health-care capital of our nation.
With 1,000 pages of legislation and more than 200,000 pages of regulations expected, government officials are designing and drafting the rules that will govern the future of health-care delivery on topics such as accountable-care organizations (ACOs) and health-information technology (HIT). They need input and ideas on the best way to implement health reform, and no group is better suited to provide these suggestions than Nashville’s innovative health-care leaders.
Last week, nearly 100 of these health-care leaders traveled to our nation’s capital as the Nashville Health Care Council’s Leadership Health Care 2011 Delegation. The delegation focused on the future of the health-care delivery system. Delegates representing Nashville’s diverse health-care industry spent two days meeting with government and private-sector leaders who have been instrumental in initiating, passing and executing health-care reform.
Speakers included Obama administration officials, policymakers and industry association executives in discussions that focused primarily on two key areas of reform implementation: the creation of ACOs, a new structure for health-care delivery involving cost management and risk sharing; and efforts to promote electronic health records, including discussions of the government’s meaningful use incentive program.
Accountable care emerges
The delegation was particularly timely as the Obama administration released its highly anticipated regulations on how ACOs may be structured during the visit. While the larger health-care community was digesting these regulations, the delegates had the unique opportunity to discuss ACO implementation in person with Mike Hash, health-care reform director for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Delegates also met with top HIT official Dr. Farzad Mostashari; from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT; Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker; Tennessee Reps. Jim Cooper and Diane Black; and key industry leaders, including representatives from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Hospital Association, the American College of Physicians and Ascension Health.
One of the most rewarding parts of the delegation occurred outside the formal agenda, as attendees discussed how developments in Washington would impact their businesses and the delivery of care across our nation. Such lively discussion and collaboration would not have been possible without the Nashville Health Care Council bringing these innovators together.
Throughout our meetings, top Washington policymakers reinforced the challenge to Nashville’s industry that the health-care reform law has created opportunities for organizations that focus on innovation, quality and cost management. Nashville has built its health-care reputation by excelling in these areas. Based on what I saw last week, I know our delegates and Nashville’s entrepreneurial health-care community are poised to be the trailblazers in reform implementation.
Claire Cowart Haltom is a health-care attorney with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC.
Source: The Tennessean