Politics, Healthcare and the Tie That Binds

In an industry where everyone admits the current game is unsustainable, players are highly interested in knowing how the rules might change next.

And that’s why, at last week’s Nashville Health Care Council’s Election 2016 and the Future of Health Care event, a packed house turned out to hear two former Senate majority leaders (Sen. Bill Frist, M.D. and Sen. Tom Daschle), a three-term Republican governor (Utah’s Gov. Mike Leavitt) and a former CMS administrator (Nancy-Ann DeParle) discuss the state of healthcare policy today – and where it might be heading.

The panelists opened the event reminiscing about the ‘glory days’ of previous administrations, when political goodwill could span partisanship, and looking (quite optimistically) toward a future when necessity will bring policymakers back together to build a stronger, more inclusive health system.

As for the more tangible matters at hand, all four speakers openly fretted about the future of state health insurance exchanges. Eighteen more months seemed to be the grim guess on how much longer state-run markets would last without major government intervention.

Presenters also stressed the difficulty in keeping policies up to date with the latest innovations, urging healthcare leaders in the room to work more closely with regulators to help keep all parties reading off the same page (or at least from the same chapter).

“The two most transformative factors in healthcare have been technology and policy,” said Daschle. “Technology has changed everything, and we’re only beginning to grasp its potential. But policy is not keeping up.”

Among the examples noted were home health and telemedicine. Those sectors have seen such massive innovation recently that the government is now years behind in defining value and setting appropriate regulations for those services, in Daschle’s estimation.

To help combat this issue, panelists urged the executives to be more dogged in their government relations efforts. As Nashville’s healthcare entrepreneurs continue to create and push more innovative models, Frist & Co. asked that they not forget lawmakers when the time comes to spread awareness about what’s new and exciting at their companies.

While the nation’s regulators struggle to keep pace with its innovators, proactive government relations can function as a means to educate lawmakers and to advocate on behalf of companies. In either capacity, according to the panelists, it will remain one of the keys to pushing the healthcare system forward.


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