Obamacare is here to stay

at 10:13 AM ET, 06/11/2012


(Karen Bleier - AFP/Getty Images)
Starting next year, the health reform law will tether hospitals’ Medicare payments to how well the facilities do on patient satisfaction ratings. As The New York Times reports Monday morning, hospitals are not waiting around for the Supreme Court to decide if the law stands. Instead, they’re preparing for a world where patient satisfaction matters:

Some hospitals have resorted to hiring outside consultants who coach nurses to recite a script praising the care — a strategy resented by short-handed staff members and denounced by their unions. Maimonides (pronounced my-MON-eh-deez), a 711-bed hospital that recently added valet parking and free Wi-Fi, instead asked labor-management teams in every unit to invent their own improvement projects. In one initiative, nurses are making hourly rounds to offer patients extra help.

On the health insurance side. UnitedHealthcare has announced that plans to follow through with many of the health reform law’s consumer friendly elements even if it does not survive Supreme Court review. That includes providing preventive services without co-payment and allowing young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans. In a statement, UnitedHealth president Stephen Hemsley said the provisions are “compatible with our mission” of promoting health and “broad access to quality care.”

These aren’t the first examples we’ve seen of the health care system reorienting itself around the Affordable Care Act. The law has pushed hospitals and insurers to pay doctors for the quality of health care they provide, rather than the quantity, an issue I wrote about in February. Many health policy experts think the Affordable Care Act has a lot to do with the recent surge in young doctors pursuing primary care careers. Even with the law’s future in limbo — and its future already certain — it looks to already reshaping how the American health care system works.

 
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