Politics in Healthcare: What ASC, Orthopedic Leaders See Coming Down the Pike

At the 11th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference on June 13, several leaders from the orthopedic and ambulatory surgery center industry spokes about the mix of business and politics in healthcare in the year ahead.

The panel included John Dietz, MD, chairman of OrthoIndy in Indianapolis; Charles "Charley" Gordon, MD, from Texas Spine and Joint Hospital in Tyler; Louis McIntyre, MD, from Westchester Orthopaedic Associates in White Plains, N.Y.; and Randy Hickle, CEO of Grace Clinic in Lubbock, Texas. Brad Gilbert, former professional tennis player and current tennis coach and ESPN analyst, moderated the panel discussion. Below is an excerpt from the conversation.

Mr. Gilbert: Is Washington, D.C., friend or foe?

Dr. McIntyre: I really want to say foe, but I won't. It's a little more nuanced than that. The government [provides] a significant portion of our income, so in one way, they're our partner. But the partnership is very one-sided. They dictate what we can charge, what we get paid, how we organize our offices and how we collect information. Now they're telling us how to organize ourselves to deliver patient care.

Dr. Dietz: The word of the day is competition. But if you use that word in Washington, it doesn't ring entirely [true]. There are a lot of folks who believe competition is good for healthcare and that it will drive down costs. If you went to the House of Representatives, more than half of those people would say so. If you went to other regulatory agencies, you probably wouldn't get that. There are a fair amount of people who believe the profit involved in competition is somehow immoral.

Mr. Gilbert: Are there opportunities created from this change? If so, what are some examples?

Mr. Hickle: The market where I am, Lubbock in mid-Texas, is wrapped up by relationships between non-profits that own HMOs and payers in that market. But things are changing with the Medicaid expansion and the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act. I think those times of rapid change are exciting. One of the things we're doing is launching an aggressive online care program. We think those types of services will have [opportunity] in terms of creating access for patients for care.

Dr. Gordon: There are clearly opportunities. Forbes had an article a couple of months ago about the "Obamacare billionaires." Some people have built massive, scalable businesses from the [PPACA]. If we don't do something proactively, we will get crushed with these opportunities. They're opportunities for somebody, so we better make them our own.

[Editor's note: The Forbes article Dr. Gordon referenced can be found here.]

More Articles on Healthcare and Politics:

The 4 "Hanging Chads" of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Could the IRS Tea Party Scandal Harm the Healthcare Reform Law?
House GOP Drafts Bill to Fix SGR

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