Who Will be the Winners and Losers in Health Reform?

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , July 27, 2009

Though it looks like the Senate won't vote on health reform legislation before the August recess, a glance into a crystal ball reveals some clues as to what sectors of the industry will see the greatest impact, both positive and negative.

Blair Childs, senior vice president for Premier, Inc., which works with 2,200 hospitals and 58,000 other healthcare sites to improve quality and affordability of healthcare, offered his insights for this list. In the center of the reform conversation, Premier maintains the nation's most comprehensive repository of clinical, financial, and outcomes information and operates a helthcare purchasing network.

The envelope please… Here is a list of those health industry sectors likely to emerge as winners or losers when reform is finally set in stone.

Almost Certainly Winners

  1. Primary care physicians. The final health reform package may include subsidies and reimbursement formula changes that will be a positive change for internists and family practitioners.
  2. Health information technology. Money to subsidize electronic medical records for physicians and hospitals may be a part of the final reform package. Computerized medical records may avoid duplication and simplify evaluation of patients.
  3. Comparative effectiveness. Companies that develop and execute value-based purchasing algorithms may get a chance to expand and flourish in the decade ahead. Measurement of best practices is certain to emerge as a growth industry.

Possible Winners

  1. Nurses. Nurse practitioners and other in allied health professionals may be given more opportunities to expand scope of practice, especially in rural settings and other underserved areas.
  2. Rural healthcare. The Obama Administration has made it clear that improving access to healthcare in rural areas, and helping rural providers improve their services, is a top priority in this administration. He nominated Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services and Regina Benjamin, MD, as surgeon general, both with a high focus on rural health. Many lawmakers on the Senate side are from rural areas too.
  3. Pharma. Pharmaceutical companies that switch to generic drug manufacturing have a chance to be a winner. One effort to cut costs will be to promote the wider prescribing of generic drugs when evidence shows they are just as effective as drugs much more expensive.
  4. Medical education. There may be more money targeted for scholarships and loan forgiveness to augment the thinning workforce. The National Health Service Corps may also get a boost.



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