President Barack Obama has been re-elected as the 44th president of the United States. Despite a strong showing against Republican candidate Mitt Romney, gathering a total 303 electoral votes compared to Mr. Romney's 206, the president still faces an incredibly divided electorate and the challenges of a second term. Here four ASC industry leaders discuss the impact of President Obama's re-election on the healthcare industry and ASCs specifically.
Michael Lipomi, CEO of Surgical Management Professionals:
The election is over, President Obama has won, the House is Republican and the Senate is Democrat. If this sounds familiar, it is; we will relive the last four years again. There will be one very positive change coming out of California, where incumbent Pete Stark has lost his seat. ObamaCare will move forward, and there will be partisan pressure to tax the wealthy and to get rid of capital gains tax treatment.
Nothing new, and certainly not unexpected given the outcome of the election. It's not all bad news, and in fact there is some silver lining in some areas for healthcare providers. Under the Obama health plan, there will be more insured who are able to access doctors and have insurance pay for procedures in surgery centers and hospitals. This should, over time, increase volumes at our facilities. The challenge is to find a way to continue to prosper under lower reimbursement, to continue to grow despite an unfavorable tax environment and to continue to be profitable through efficiencies. Good business knows that they can overcome almost any adversity, given they know the rules they are playing by.
We all know the new rules and the new tax environment, and now it is our turn, as educated business men and women, to find a way to make our business thrive under the rules we before us.
One of the greatest lessons from this election is the dramatic move to social media. I remember back when presidential debates were first televised and that changed campaigning and the entire election process. The same is true for war when CNN was broadcasting as we bombed the Middle East. Now, we have all witnessed an election won using social media, and we must study and understand the business implications of this shift. We must study, adapt and move forward with changes that move us into the future in order to compete and prosper over the next four years. Change is upon us, and we cannot sit back and complain that the election didn't go our way — but rather embrace the opportunities of the future and once again become the innovative leaders Dr. Reed and Dr. Ford were in 1970, when they opened the first surgery center in Phoenix Arizona.
Chris McMenemy, Ortmann Healthcare Consultants:
The simplistic view would be that under Obama, the Affordable Care Act would stand and more people would be insured, which should be good for ASCs. But nothing is ever that simple. What will be the long-term effects of the Act as far as changes in how people are insured? Will the public option become more popular than the current private insurance plans, and how will that affect reimbursement to ASCs? It's difficult to know. What I think is really important is that just getting this election over will help with the uncertainty of the past year. Even if we don't like the outcome, at least we know something concrete and that allows us to plan for the future.
Matt Searles, CEO of Merritt Healthcare:
Before addressing healthcare I will state I believe Obama's goal should be to address the single greatest threat to our nation, which is the rapidly expanding federal deficit, now growing by a trillion dollars every year. The deficit is a result of years of spending more than we take in, and the current voting populace, which is responsible for the debt, should be the ones to implement austerity measures to reduce it. Foisting the debt on future generations is unethical and immoral. We all caused it, now let's solve it.
Regarding healthcare costs, the industry should work to maintain its position as the low-cost, high-quality provider. As important, we need to make sure we educate the public, lawmakers and payers on how we are part of the solution, not the problem.
John Seitz, CEO of MMX Holdings:
If Obama wins, ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act) will be accelerated and on target for January 2014. Surgical centers will need to adjust for a market that includes accountable care organizations and a higher emphasis on "pay for performance." The spotlight will most likely get much brighter on inefficient or expensive providers of care.
James St. Louis, CEO of Advanced Healthcare Partners:
The election results are in, and now our uncertainty and pause can go back into motion. With the recent news, it is stated that new policy will provide healthcare coverage to more than 30 million uninsured consumers, will expand Medicare by up to 17 million, and will guarantee coverage for children and young adults. What does this mean to all of us as employers and operators? With mixed feelings by all, it still provides each of us the opportunity to continue to focus on first-class customer care, true differentiation in our level of service, and always making sure that our commitment is to our patients.
From a planning perspective, healthcare organizations should be prepared to deal with a different patient population mix, who previously may have faced barriers in obtaining healthcare, and have resources in place to support a more diverse population of patient needs.
While the Affordable Care Act could cause a shortage of primary care physicians and increased wait times, making it difficult for patients to receive essential follow-up treatment at local primary care facilities, it also very well could provide an opportunity for us to assess what is really important, which is making sure that our patients are adequately cared for. New strategies on efficiencies, treating the patients as the true customers, and the balance of quality of care will be the future of successful healthcare operations. In addition, with a supply and demand shift toward greater demand for healthcare, it is key that we focus attention toward the quality of our providers, starting with our medical school foundation and focusing on fostering motivated providers.
Joe Zasa, co-founder and managing partner of ASD Management:
The election should be neutral to the industry because the Obama health act is in place but the Republicans still control Congress so we won’t see further funding. We will wait two more years for the next election to see what occurs, but in the meantime funding the ASC lobbying efforts should be the priority.
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