Mercy - Catholi Download Logo Health care debate needs deep breath, not hot air By Lloyd H. Dean, President/CEO, Catholic Healthcare West 08.19.2009 – Although Congress has left Washington, DC for its summer recess, the debate over health care reform continues to heat up across the country. But the Resource Li heat isn’t shedding much light. Instead of spending the next six weeks stirring up fear and anxiety, let’s use this time to take a breath and reflect on why reform is needed: so that the quality of the health care you receive will get better, cost less, and be there when you need it. Picture this scenario a few years in the future following reform: Despite having improved your health by losing weight and increasing your exercise (which you’ve accomplished through programs entirely paid by your health insurance), you are admitted to your local hospital because you’re experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack. Thanks to the expanded use of electronic medical records, the hospital knows you are on your way, who your doctor is, what drugs you are taking, which ones you are allergic to, and what types of diagnoses and treatments you’ve had. Because of reform measures promoting use of the best methods of care, the physicians at the hospital are aware of the most recent studies about your condition and they have an individual care plan developed for you. Your care plan at your local community hospital is as up to date as it would have been at a research hospital. After you leave the hospital, you participate in a months-long integrated recovery and rehabilitation program under supervision of your primary care doctor. The program keeps you from having to be readmitted because you have followed the regimen of exercise and proper medication. As a result of these efficiencies, your health insurance costs are affordable. You feel better about the care you receive, your family is thrilled about your recovery, and your physician and hospital are pleased about the care they provided. And, on top of all of this, you aren’t worried about taking that new job you are considering, because health insurance companies can’t deny you coverage based on this pre-existing condition. A dream scenario? It doesn’t have to be if Congress achieves the reforms that can result in truly improved care for you and your family. Today, our health care delivery system is too fragmented to achieve optimum results. Handwritten records, cryptic insurance forms, confusion about primary or specialist coverage, and a stifling layer of laws and regulations make it virtually impossible to provide integrated medical care. That can change for the better. The health reform proposals being considered in Congress contain a number of vital measures that can give us the health care future we all want: • A focus on quality by establishing best care protocols and sponsoring research programs to spur treatment innovations; • Incentives that reward improved care rather than redundant procedures; • The use of electronic medical records, by a greater investment in information technology; • Coordinated care among providers; • A focus on preventive care that provides the right care at the right time in the best setting; • Evidence-based care that reduces health disparities; and • Health insurance portability so that changing jobs or moving to a new city or state doesn’t jeopardize an individual’s continuity of care. Of course, the health care debate encompasses broader issues of program funding, cost reduction initiatives, and expanding coverage to the uninsured. These issues have provoked a heated battle in Washington, DC precisely because of their scope and impact on the federal budget and everyone in the United States. We may be weary of watching the political maneuvering associated with reform. But all of us have a deep and vested interest in policies that ultimately affect our own health, as well as the health of our country’s economy. At Catholic Healthcare West, we hope that everyone will take a break to look beyond the headlines and bickering. Think about how health reform can dramatically improve the lives of you and your family. We think that after a closer look, and a renewed focus on the objective, people will breathe easier about the idea of reforming our health care system. About Catholic Healthcare West Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) is the eighth largest hospital system in the nation and the largest not-for-profit hospital provider in California. Founded in 1986, the CHW network of more than 9,500 physicians and approximately 53,000 employees serves a population spanning 22 million people at 41 hospitals across California, Arizona, and Nevada. CHW is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality, affordable health care services with special attention to the poor and underserved. In 2008 CHW provided $967 million in charity care, community benefits, and unreimbursed patient care. For more information, please visit our website at www.chwHEALTH.org. Short URL: http://pitch.pe/22462 About Mercy - Catholic Healthcare West At Mercy, we take a personalized approach to healthcare, offering services covering the full spectrum of healthcare, from education and wellness to acute treatment and rehabilitation. 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