Regardless of Court Ruling, Reform Under Way

Cheryl Clark and Margaret Dick Tocknell , March 30, 2012

Court's Opinion "Might Not Matter"
Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health in San Diego says that, "In the end, (the justices' decision) might not matter, and it might not significantly change the direction of healthcare. We all know that too many people are uninsured, the current system is broken and is too costly. Much of the work, in fact all of the work, Scripps is doing right now to improve quality, access and lower cost will continue, regardless of the final decision."

Moving Ahead with ACO Plans
And Stephen L. Mansfield, president and CEO of Methodist Health System in Dallas, says a "complete transformation" of the healthcare system is still the only viable alternative, even without the Supreme Court decision.

So Methodist is moving ahead with plans to form an accountable care organization, and is working to achieve clinical integration with its physicians.

"We have begun transitioning our primary care clinics to medical homes and enhancing our focus on the health of the community, beginning with our own employees," he says. They're working to reduce costs and improve quality at the same time.

Like many executives of hospital systems, Mansfield hopes the Supreme Court won't reject the law. "I believe the healthcare reform legislation as proposed is this country's best opportunity to take healthcare value in America from mediocre among industrialized nations to superior," he says.

"If we believe healthcare is indeed a right rather than a privilege, dramatic reforms are needed.

"If this legislation is not upheld, I challenge our legislators to present an equally strong alternative, because I do not believe the current trajectory is sustainable."

If the law is struck down, it may be up to the states to interpret their own rules for reform. If that comes to pass, Dowling says, "How real reform is achieved will be different from place to place, but it’s too much a part of our collective consciousness to disappear."

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