In this episode, we talk with Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Matt Hale, Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Seton Hall University, and Tom Bracken, President and CEO of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce about the biggest issues affecting healthcare policy in 2017. The interviews were conducted at the Princeton Public Affairs Group annual post-election luncheon.
Michael Passanante: Hi, this is Mike Passanante. Before we begin today’s episode, I wanted to take a minute to thank Mike Merola and everyone at Winning Strategies Washington and the Princeton Public Affairs Group for hosting their annual post-election luncheon and facilitating the interviews you’re about to hear.
My colleague, Tom Fogerty was on site and spoke with a few of the key figures at the event.
Tom Fogerty: Welcome to the Hospital Finance Podcast. I’m Tom Fogerty from BESLER Consulting. Today’s episode was taped at the 2016 post-election luncheon at the Trenton Country Club.
I had the opportunity to interview two of today’s panelists, Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey’s District Seven and Matthew Hale, Professor of Political Science at Seton Hall University. I also had the opportunity to speak with Tom Bracken who’s President and CEO of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce.
I’m here with Congressman Leonard Lance. Thank you very much for taking some time to speak with us today. I appreciate it.
Rep. Leonard Lance: Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be with you.
Tom: Okay. How do you think the new administration will change the Affordable Care Act?
Rep. Leonard Lance: I think that the new administration is looking to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. I don’t favor going back to the situation that existed before its enactment, but I do think there has to be major, major modification. And I would imagine that would occur, beginning in January.
Tom: Okay, great. Where do you believe the new administration and Houses of Congress can improve the Affordable Care Act?
Rep. Leonard Lance: Costs have increased dramatically for Americans who have been covered. And so we want to make sure that that does not continue. I personally think that we have to repeal the Medical Device Tax. It’s critical to the Congressional District that I serve here in North Central New Jersey. I also think we need tort reform and we have to make sure that insurance companies are not bailed out by the taxpaying public.
Tom: Great. Do you think the new administration will continue to push for the movement for fee for service to fee for value payment models?
Rep. Leonard Lance: Yes, I think we’re moving away from the old system into the new system and I think that would be true no matter who had been elected President. And we need a new patient-centered model and that I think is the wave of the future regarding healthcare in this country.
Tom: Okay. What do you think some of the biggest pressing issues for hospitals for the year 2017?
Rep. Leonard Lance: Hospitals have to make sure that they’re financially stable. In many states, hospitals take patients regardless of their ability to pay and so we have to work with hospitals to make sure that they perform the services that are essential for the better health of the American nation.
Tom: Okay. And then with regard to healthcare policy, what would be some of the biggest issues in 2017?
Rep. Leonard Lance: We have to make healthcare more affordable in this country. This country spends 18% of gross domestic product on healthcare cost far exceeding other industrialized countries around the globe. And we have to do a much better job to make sure that the American people receive the best care possible, but receive value for the services they receive. And this will continue to be an issue of discussion particularly in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in which I serve, which is the committee of jurisdiction for the better health of the American nation.
Tom: Congressman Lance, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.
Rep. Leonard Lance: Thank you very much for having me.
Professor Hale: I am Matt Hale and I’m a Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Seton Hall University.
Tom: Thank you for coming on. How do you think the new administration will change the Affordable Care Act?
Professor Hale: The biggest thing they’ve said is that they’re going to get rid of it and that’s a pretty big change. It’s probably a little bit more complicated than just a stroke of the pen getting rid of it. There’s a whole variety of different sub-bills and laws that would have to go through Congress. But I think that Donald Trump has been pretty clear that he wants to significantly decrease and get rid of the Affordable Care Act.
Tom: Okay. What do you think the biggest issues around healthcare policy will be in 2017?
Professor Hale: I think in 2017, how that all plays itself out, I think it’s important to remember that the ACA has 20 million people who have insurance today that didn’t have it before.
What happens if that goes away? What happens to those people? Are they phased in, phased out? Will they be put into a new system? And I think that may take up to a year for it to figure out. Where do those 20 million people go?
A lot of those people don’t have the ability to have insurance through their employer. And so I think that’s going to be one of the primary issues.
Tom: Okay, great. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
Professor Hale: Thanks for having me.
Tom: All right.
Okay, thanks for joining the podcast. Tom, can you give your name and title please?
Tom Bracken: Tom Bracken, President and CEO of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce.
Tom: Great. Thank you for joining us, Tom. How do you think the new administration will change the Affordable Care Act?
Tom Bracken: I’m not sure exactly how they will, but they’ve made a lot of comments about the fact that they will. So I think the fact that they are addressing it is encouraging because it’s clear that what we have in place right now is not as effective as it should be. And I think you could probably argue that it’s not working.
So I think a lot of people are encouraged by the fact that they’ve been talking about this throughout the primary and throughout the election process and something will get done.
Tom: Great. Where do you believe the new administration and the Houses of Congress can improve the Affordable Care Act?
Tom Bracken: I think they have to look at what the original intention was, which was to provide better care, lower cost and cover more people. I’m not sure any of that has happened.
So if any one of those three is improved, it’s better, it’s improved. And hopefully all three will be improved.
Tom: What do you think are the most pressing issues hospitals will be dealing with in the upcoming year?
Tom Bracken: I think hospitals have a particular challenge as evidenced by the fact that it’s probably the industry that’s consolidating the fastest. So that tells me that there is a real need to provide expanded care in some of these hospitals, probably a need to reduce some of the overhead cost and probably a need to utilize empty beds in a more efficient way.
I think they’re facing a lot of challenges and again you don’t have massive consolidation in an industry, unless there are some systemic needs that need to be addressed and my bet is that they have a lot of those needs, not the least of which is how they handle the cost of care, which goes right back to the Obamacare issue.
Tom: And do you think those related to the biggest issues is concerning healthcare in 2017?
Tom Bracken: The biggest issues are what we are hearing our members talk about, which is that the cost of healthcare continues to rise. The options for employees continue to shrink. The quality of care that they’re getting, in some cases, is not as good. So none of those things are good, but when you put them alltogether, it’s not a very encouraging situation and it has to be addressed.
Tom: Tom, thank you for your time. I appreciate it very much.
Tom Bracken: Thank you.
Tom: Thank you.