Monday, November 25, 2013

The Healthcare Industry's Vested Interest in Obamacare Succeeding

The Republican Party is so busy prostituting itself to the Christofascist/Tea Party elements of the party base that oppose the Affordable Health Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare - many of whom are frankly motivated primarily by a racist base hatred of Barack Obama - that they seem to be ignoring another powerful interest group that has significant reasons: the healthcare industry.  Many powerful players in the healthcare industry realize that repealing Obamacare and going back to the increasingly broken system that was previously in place is simply not acceptable.  With the ranks of the uninsured soaring but for Obamacare and healthcare costs out of control, at some point the entire structure will collapse without change.  The Los Angeles Times looks at why the healthcare industry will ultimately strive to make Obamacare work.  Here are excerpts:
WASHINGTON — President Obama's healthcare law, struggling to survive its botched rollout, now depends more than ever on insurance companies, doctor groups and hospitals — major forces in the industry that are committed to the law's success despite persistent tensions with the White House.

Many healthcare industry leaders are increasingly frustrated with the Obama administration's clumsy implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Nearly all harbor reservations about parts of the sweeping law.

But since 2010, they have invested billions of dollars to overhaul their businesses, design new insurance plans and physician practices and develop better ways to monitor quality and control costs.

Few industry leaders want to go back to a system that most had concluded was failing, as costs skyrocketed and the ranks of the uninsured swelled.

Nor do they see much that is promising from the law's Republican critics. The GOP has focused on repealing Obamacare, but has devoted less energy to developing a replacement.  Healthcare industry officials generally view several GOP proposals, such as limiting coverage for the poor and scuttling new insurance marketplaces created by the law, as more damaging than helpful to the nation's healthcare system.

"The principle of providing the opportunity for everyone to get health coverage and of joining everybody together in shared responsibility is the right one," said James Roosevelt Jr., president of Tufts Health Plan, one of Massachusetts' largest insurers. "No one has presented a credible alternative."

The value of the alliance between the administration and major insurers, hospitals, clinics and others in the healthcare industry can readily be seen in steps they have taken to help the White House overcome the rocky start of the law's new insurance marketplaces.
Major retail pharmacies, such as CVS Caremark, have agreed to market the law's benefits in their stores. And hospitals and health clinics in many states are helping patients sign up for coverage.

For many of these organizations, the prospect of new customers and a more rational system outweighs their sometimes intense irritation with the Obama administration.

Despite the frustrations, most insurers remain committed to moving to a new market that would achieve the central promise of the Affordable Care Act: that all consumers can buy health plans even if they have preexisting medical conditions.
Even the chief executive of WellPoint, the nation's second-largest health insurer, which spent heavily in 2010 to help defeat Democrats in Congress who had voted for Obamacare, signaled optimism this week about the prospects for people signing up for coverage under the law in coming months.

"The potential is there for a significant uptake," Joseph Swedish said in an interview this week at a conference for corporate executives sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.
Hospitals, which provided crucial backing for the law in hopes it would reduce the number of uninsured patients, have been redesigning the way they deliver care to keep patients out of the hospital, another goal of the law.

We are still not entirely sure where we are going," said Judy Rich, chief executive of Tucson Medical Center in Arizona, which has been partnering with local doctors to help patients stay healthy so they don't need to be hospitalized.  "But every time we reevaluate the options, we come back to one conclusion: This is fundamentally the right thing to do."

"The fact is that doctors and hospitals around the country are committed to achieving the goals of the health law: expanding coverage and, more importantly, raising quality … and making healthcare more cost-effective," he said.  "There is no going back."

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