Essentia, St. Luke’s execs voice concern about reformRival health-care executives John Strange and Dr. Peter Person spoke with one voice on Wednesday about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Rival health-care executives John Strange and Dr. Peter Person spoke with one voice on Wednesday about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m a big supporter of health-care reform,” said Person, the CEO of Essentia Health. “I think the implementation is going to be just a disaster.”
Strange, his counterpart at St. Luke’s hospital, agreed.
“The reality is there’s so much uncertainty,” Strange said. “They’re underfunding it and they’re way behind on the deadlines.”
Person and Strange were guests at a “Downtown Live” event hosted by the Greater Downtown Council in the comfy confines of the Zinema 2 theater late Wednesday afternoon. Seated in swivel armchairs, they told moderator Steve Greenfield about their roles as friendly competitors, speaking in the calm tones of veteran administrators.
When City Councilor Sharla Gardner asked the Affordable Care Act question from the audience, they offered dire misgivings in the same measured tones.
To try to make reforms work, the government keeps cutting reimbursements to hospitals, Person and Strange said. Minnesota, one of the healthiest states, gets much lower reimbursements than Louisiana, the least healthy state, but has to bear the same cuts.
The act’s 20,000 pages of regulations are expected to grow to 200,000 by the time it’s fully implemented, Strange said.
The health exchange, designed to allow uninsured individuals to purchase insurance from an online marketplace, creates further uncertainty, they said.
“Nobody understands what the exchanges are,” Person said. “The insurance companies don’t know, we don’t know, and the state is clueless.”
When the public gets to know the current reform, they won’t put up with it, Person predicted. That will result in either a return to pre-Affordable Care Act days or a move to single-payer insurance run by the government.
“I don’t know anybody that thinks this is going to work,” Person said of the Affordable Care Act. “This is going to be really messy and really complicated and really frustrating and really discouraging.”
Still, both men said their organizations are as well-prepared for the changes as they possibly can be.
“There’s a tremendous amount of unknown, but we’re well-equipped to handle the unknown,” Strange said.