Affordable Care Act: Miami Healthcare Leaders Discuss ‘What’s Next’

To help area healthcare execs and business owners gain perspective on the tumultuous state of healthcare in the U.S., the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a well-attended luncheon and panel discussion on healthcare.

The event was called “What’s Next After the Supreme Court Rules?” but that moniker’s a bit misleading. Judging from its name, the CareCloud reps that attended the event were expecting it to center on politically divisive arguments for and against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

All three of the leaders on the Chamber’s event panel felt favorably toward the healthcare reform legislation. But what made their dialogues truly engaging were their highly informed views on how much more needs to be done from the inside out to improve the healthcare system in America.

After introductions by the Chamber’s Healthcare Committee Chairman Christopher Dudley, each panelist approached the issue from his own unique perspective. Brian Keeley, President & CEO of Baptist Health South Florida – the region’s largest faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization – posed the hospital executive’s point of view.

Patrick J. Geraghty, Chairman & CEO of Florida Blue – the state’s arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield, which covers a third of all Floridians – spoke on behalf of a major insurer.

And Dr. Pedro “Joe” Greer, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and Chair of the Department of Humanities, Health and Society at the Florida International University School of Medicine, discussed matters as both a longtime healthcare provider and prominent medical educator.

Despite their varied backgrounds, all three healthcare leaders felt passionately that improving the state of healthcare requires increasing access to care, educating and engaging patients, and implementing a greater focus on prevention, wellness and primary care across the board in order to lower costs.

“The healthcare costs in the United States, in my estimation, are indefensible,” said Mr. Keeley in his introductory remarks. “We are bankrupting the country in no uncertain terms, and from a global economic standpoint, the U.S. can never be competitive unless we get some type of control over this.”

In particular, it was enlightening to learn what forward-thinking steps Florida Blue, under Mr. Geraghty’s guidance, is taking to enhance engagement and get involved with healthcare consumers. The insurer has opened ten Florida Blue retail centers around the state, where they provide in-person service and guidance to customers. At the centers, Florida Blue representatives help patients resolve problem claims, provide on-site health risk assessments and help individuals purchase the right coverage for them.

Geraghty spoke at length about how insurers and healthcare organizations need to achieve greater alignment and work to share an enhanced focus on incentivizing improved patient outcomes.

“Healthcare reform means that everyone has to change,” said Geraghty. “Getting that alignment right is what is really going to change healthcare in this country. The Affordable Care Act is the ‘guidelines and goalposts,’ if you will. The real change has to happen in the community where care gets delivered, where we think about health and wellness.”

Walking away from the event, we can’t say we learned exactly what changes are coming down the pipe for healthcare in America. But we did gain a renewed sense of perhaps what should be next to come – progress toward accessible, team-led care, greater incentivization for personal wellness, and lower costs for all as a result.

Let’s hope that really is “what’s next.”

Thanks to the Miami Chamber for hosting the event and to the panelists for such an insightful talk!