Change in Healthcare is Upon Us…Law or not

In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States for the first time, I was a member of the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) of the American Psychological Association. CAPP is charged with general governance oversight of the Practice Directorate, the part of APA responsible for promoting “the practice of psychology and the availability and accessibility of psychological services, providing resources and services to practicing psychologists in all settings and to the public.”

Our first meeting immediately after the election was highly charged. Staff had been studying President Clinton’s healthcare proposals, and the notion of controlling cost through “managed care.”

President Clinton’s healthcare proposals did not fly, but the industry picked up the notion of controlling costs by managing the care provided to consumers, and psychological practice has never been the same. For private practitioners, “managed care” continues to be a primary obstacle to the practice of psychology. Costs might have been suppressed by managing care, but some would argue that the primary effect of the managed care revolution was the creation of a new industry that made money as the middle-men at the cost of providers. Indeed, after a few years of leveling of the costs of care, the rise has been renewed and expanded.

In mid-November, the Supreme Court of the U.S. agreed to hear an appeal of the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s most recent effort to reform our healthcare system.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which is the only court to have struck down the individual mandate because it overstepped Congressional authority and wasn’t justified by the constitutional power “to regulate commerce” or “to lay and collect taxes.” FierceHealthPayer, November 18, 2011

According to editor Dina Overland of FierceHealthPayer newsletter, even a complete overturn of the law would have little significant impact. She believes that consumers like the changes the law is mandating and there is no stopping this train.

Mercom Capital Group, in their HIT Report of November 21, 2011, says the same thing about the massive changes in the healthcare arena at large. Basing their conclusions on a report by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC), Mercom reports that health organizations will continue to move forward with changes to their health technology and other innovations because the multiple drivers in the marketplace have finally come to a head. No matter the political or the financial uncertainties, PwC believes this movement will continue. These are changes consumers like, and the movement will continue no matter which market forces might change.

In their HIT Report of November 28, 2011, Mercom reports that Harvard and Aetna will ally to work to improve healthcare costs and quality. The two have formed a research collaborative focused on improving the quality and cost of healthcare. They will use bioinformatics, the interface of computer science and information technology with the fields of biology and medicine, to analyze healthcare data in innovative ways. They will focus on outcomes of various treatments considering quality and cost, factors that predict adherence to medical and drug treatments for chronic diseases, examining how claims and clinical data can be best used to predict disease and follow outcomes, as well as other treatments of data that will emerge over time.

Where is your organization in the midst of this dramatic change in how we manage healthcare? How do you see yourself participating in the sea change that is under way? Where does behavioral healthcare fit into this picture?

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