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September 29, 2016

Policy Experts Gather in Nashville to Discuss Election 2016 and the Future of Health Care

Policy Experts Gather in Nashville to Discuss Election 2016 and the Future of Health Care

With just six weeks left in 2016’s historic election season, some of the country’s most knowledgeable health care policy leaders gathered today for a discussion in Nashville, the nation’s health care industry capital.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., partner, Cressey & Company, moderated the conversation featuring panelists Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, founder and CEO, The Daschle Group, Former Governor Mike Leavitt, founder and chairman, Leavitt Partners and Nancy-Ann DeParle, partner, Consonance Capital. More than 375 Nashville Health Care Council member executives were in attendance.

View event photos on Flickr.

Photo credit: (c) 2016, Donn Jones.

Sen. Frist set the stage by briefly reviewing both parties’ stances with regard to health care policy.

“The Democrats’ position is to build on the Affordable Care Act, with Clinton committing to work with the 19 states that have yet to expand Medicaid, encouraging them to get on board. At the same time, the Republican platform emphasizes a ‘repeal and replace’ stance, promoting more state engagement, private sector solutions and alternatives,” explained Sen. Frist.

The panelists discussed a range of topics, including top priorities for the president-elect, Medicaid expansion, the health care exchange and predictions on the future of health care policy under a Clinton or Trump presidency.

“There is no question; progress has been made with regard to access since the Affordable Care Act was implemented.  But, we never expected it to happen overnight. The goal of the ACA was not only to cover the uninsured – it was also to change the system. And we’re seeing that through the move to value-based payments and lower health care costs,” said DeParle, who spearheaded President Obama’s successful effort to enact the Affordable Care Act and managed the initial implementation of the law.

“With regard to Medicaid expansion, it’s important to remember that it took 17 years to implement Medicaid in all states when the program began, so it will take time,” said Sen. Daschle. “If we can create flexibility, addressing the specific needs of each state and allowing each state to create its own implementation plan, we will see more expansion.”

“The obstacle to expanding Medicaid sits not with the governors, but with the state legislatures. In some ways, the federal government is tying the hands of those who administer Medicaid at the state level. If those in D.C. set the standards and let states create their own systems, in many cases, it would work much better,” said Gov. Leavitt. “The key for states is to be able to expand in a way that reflects their own population and values.”

Overall, the group agreed that there is some potential for bipartisan cooperation under a new administration, after nearly eight years of congressional gridlock.

“The two most transformative factors in health care have been technology and policy. Technology has changed everything, and we’re only beginning to grasp its potential. But policy is not keeping up,” said Sen. Daschle. “We need to remove policy barriers to things like research, interoperability and telemedicine, if we want to move forward on innovation and improve the health care system. This is an area that can see bipartisan support.”

The panelists also emphasized the caliber of talent within Nashville’s health care community, and the importance of voicing this expertise in Washington.

“The government is not great at innovating, but they are good at getting behind innovation. Your job is to continue to innovate, keep a dialogue with those in Washington and oppose regulations that can hinder progress,” said Gov. Leavitt.

“The Council convenes the most knowledgeable and innovative minds in health care. Bringing leaders from D.C. to Nashville to speak with this group is very important as we create the future of health care,” said DeParle. “It is equally important for the experts in this room to visit policymakers in D.C., and make your voices heard.”

“The Council is pleased to host such a substantial group of experts to discuss the future of health care policy,” said Hayley Hovious, Council president. “Nashville is home to many of the nation’s most significant health care companies, and this program covered key topics that will affect our members’ businesses and patient care throughout the country.”

Today’s program was presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Supporting sponsors were Bass, Berry & Sims, Cressey & Company, KPMG and LifePoint Health.

About the Nashville Health Care Council

The Nashville Health Care Council is a premier association of health care industry leaders working together to further establish Nashville’s position as the nation’s health care industry capital. Supported by nearly 300 corporate members, including local and national health care companies, the Council serves as a trusted source for information on trends that influence the health care industry. The organization provides members with one-of-a-kind networking opportunities and access to Nashville’s elite health care business community.

Worldwide, Nashville’s health care industry generates more than 500,000 jobs and $78 billion in annual revenue. The industry is Nashville’s largest and fastest-growing employer. For more information on the Council, please visit

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