Judy O’Neal is the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Chief of Staff, Office of the President.
Yesterday was a historic day for health care as the House voted to pass the health care reform bill that was approved by the Senate in December. We would like to acknowledge and commend the leadership of North Carolina’s congressional representatives, particularly Brad Miller, David Price and Bob Etheridge, for voting in support of this historic legislation. We have worked closely with our representatives and their staffs from the beginning of the health care reform conversation up to the final vote yesterday. We are grateful that our delegation made every effort to understand how this legislation will affect our state’s hospitals and patients.
This legislation is a historic step that will ensure the majority of Americans have health insurance. When fully implemented, 95 percent of American citizens will be covered.
But this legislation is not perfect, and there are still challenges ahead. We wish that significant cost control measures such as medical liability reform had been included in the bill. And, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that there will be 23 million people living in America, many of whom are not U.S. citizens, who will remain uninsured. These people will still need health care services, making programs like Disproportionate Share very important for hospitals like WakeMed that care for a majority of the uninsured in their communities (disproportionate share is a federal program that provides slightly higher reimbursement rates for hospitals that care for the largest percentage of uninsured patients. We have blogged on the importance of preserving this program in the past.) We recognize that all health care providers will face challenges in implementing these new changes – like a shift in the payment system that focuses on volumes to one that focuses on quality outcomes.
WakeMed is ready to embrace these challenges, and we applaud Congress for taking such major steps to reform America’s very complex health system.