Leadership Health Care News

September 22, 2023

Health care in Washington: Innovation, Medicaid expansion and politics as usual

Health care in Washington: Innovation, Medicaid expansion and politics as usual

Nashville Business Journal | Benson Sloan

Leadership Health Care completed its 14th annual delegation to Washington, D.C., last week.

More than 100 of Nashville’s emerging health care leaders traveled to our nation’s capital to gather first-hand insight into the policies and politics affecting Nashville’s $73 billion health care industry. The delegation’s two days of sessions were packed with expert speakers – including legislators and Obama administration officials – and went in-depth on a range of important topics, such as Medicaid policy, the interoperability of health care information systems and the impact of the 2016 presidential race on health care reform.

Delegates brought home valuable knowledge to apply to their organizations. Here are a few of the takeaways from the two-day event:

Interoperability needs more innovation.
Interoperability is the ability for data to flow through the continuum of care, enabling the aggregation of data into a single record. A critical component is having patient information available to health care providers and the patient themselves when and where they need it. As a result of the more than 700 vendors in the industry, silos of data have been created, making true interoperability increasingly difficult.

Delegates heard from an expert panel on specific barriers the industry faces in achieving interoperability and talked about what some groups, like the CommonWell Health Alliance and the Center for Medical Interoperability, are doing to chip away at the issue. Though the path forward is unclear, most agree that the widespread adoption of electronic medical records has been an important first step in digitizing health care. Further innovation will be required to advance the industry forward to interoperability through a multi-stakeholder effort.

Tennessee will expand Medicaid … eventually.
In a discussion with the executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, TennCare Director Darin Gordon talked about the “painful memory” of contracting TennCare in the early 2000s after its broad expansion 10 years earlier and how that memory is likely what’s keeping state legislators from the governor’s Insure Tennessee program. But Gordon thinks “we’ll get there,” eventually. After all, Tennessee was one of the last states to enter Medicaid in the ’60s, he said, so we may just need a little time.

Washington is no “House of Cards.”
Though Politico Congressional Reporter Jake Sherman opened the delegation with a riveting discussion of the behind-the-scenes action on Capitol Hill and painted a colorful picture of the presidential primary, our elected officials explained that it is business as usual in Congress – with none of the intrigue you might find on Netflix.

That is, legislative gridlock continues, with little prospect for substantive work on health care policy through the end of the year and the closure of President Obama’s term in office. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN), and Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and John Yarmuth (D-KY) talked about some of their top legislative priorities, gave predictions for the outcome of the 2016 presidential race, and explained that while the Affordable Care Act could use some tweaking, it’s unlikely to face a full repeal.

The health care industry has evolved significantly since the passing of the ACA. More Americans have insurance, there are penalties for wasteful care, reimbursement is tied to value and yet we still have a lot of work to do in creating an idealistic health care system. The members of Leadership Health Care will be back in D.C. next year seeking answers on a whole new set of topics.

Benson Sloan is the director of corporate development at MedHost and board chairman of Leadership Health Care. MedHost is a member of the CommonWell Health Alliance and has signed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Interoperability Pledge. Leadership Health Care was formed in 2002 as an initiative of the Nashville Health Care Council to foster the next generation of health care leaders. Visit www.leadershiphealthcare.com for more information.



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