Patient Protection Needs Focus in Obama's Second Term

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , January 24, 2013

There was joy in the faces and hope in the eyes of those watching. I know that sounds like a platitude. But it's true.

As I bopped around the Baltimore-Washington corridor visiting friends from various chapters of my life and places I used to haunt, I heard many interpretations of what the healthcare law will mean to my generation, as well as the tiniest children who sat on their parents' shoulders during the parade.

Most of those views had to do with the "affordable care" portion of the healthcare reform bill, how people will obtain insurance and how we are going to pay for it all. But very few mentioned their expectations from the "patient protection" part, which is where this quality column usually dwells.

No one I spoke with, from the civics teacher from an inner city Atlanta high school at the airport, to an ailing Medicare beneficiary who sat at a train station, appreciated the provisions designed to improve the quality of care.

I hope that in coming months and years, the Obama administration does a much better job of showing us just how the new law's vice grips will incent providers to work harder. Patients should get only necessary and appropriate care without being harmed in the process.

Four more years lie ahead of us and there's lots of work to do. Let's get started.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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