The government’s health care reform law moves to the Supreme Court this week, and no doubt we will hear strong arguments for and against a federal requirement that all Americans get insurance or pay fines.
It’s a big, complicated subject, which is one of the reasons I jumped at an invitation to talk with a couple innovators in the space at the Bethesda offices of Wellnet HealthCare Group, a provider of health insurance, pharmacy benefits and more to small and medium-size employers.
Keith Lemer is the president of Wellnet, and he is also the founder of something called Healthcare Interactive, a Howard County company that has ambitions of being the cloud-based IT operating system that undergirds all of health care, linking patient records to doctors, hospitals and insurers.
He and chief executive Henry Cha don’t seem particularly worried that the Supreme Court could upend their plans should it toss out the individual mandate.
That’s because the federal government is already spending millions to revamp the national system, and there’s lot of momentum behind elements of that effort, such as the establishment of health insurance exchanges.
Health care reform “is happening,” Cha said. “It might not happen for the whole market, but it is happening for half the market. That’s huge.”
Lemer’s advice to business owners, big and small: Take control of the process before it takes control of you.
Disruption is coming.
Think of Healthcare Interactive as “selling the shovels and pickaxes for the next gold rush,” Lemer said.
That rush is already under way. Plenty of the big government contractors in town have beefed up their health care IT practices in anticipation. Lemer and Cha hope to carve out their own niche by being nimbler than the entrenched interests that dominate health care today.
Reform “is going to create some dinosaurs, and we’re here to pick up the pieces,” Lemer said.