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State of Health Care Remains Uncertain

State of Health Care Remains Uncertain - Bucklew
Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association  

PIQUA - The only thing certain about health care today is the uncertainty. That was part of the message conveyed July 17 during the State of Health Care luncheon organized by the Piqua, Troy and Tipp City Chambers of Commerce. 

Speakers on health care were Tom Parker, president and CEO of the Upper Valley Medical Center, and Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

"Through no fault of the hospitals, doctors, patients or lawyers there is just a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace,” Bucklew said.

As implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act nears, everyone – individuals, employers, business owners, providers and hospitals – has questions about what the rules will be, who will pay for what, what type of insurance actually is needed and how more people can access the system, Bucklew said.

 “The whole future state model is driven by what is necessary, not how much can be done,” Parker said. “We are focusing the future on quality outcomes and keeping people healthy, not just treating and billing them.”

“These are tough decisions to make, but especially when you don’t have all of the information in front of you,” he said.

However, there is good news for those receiving health care in the region, Bucklew said. That is the result of a hospital quality outcomes survey using hospital mortality rates for conditions such as heart attacks, stroke and pulmonary disease by Healthgrades, a national organization that documents health care quality scores.

“The results showed our hospital quality is second to none; I mean number one in the country, ahead of places such as Phoenix and Cleveland,” Bucklew said.

“We are very proud. The things we can control in the region, we do every well. The things we can’t control – regulations, reimbursement rates – those are the challenges that we have as a community,” he said.

Despite all the questions regarding the future of health care, Bucklew said no one argues the system was working.

“The status quo wasn’t a good system...I think everybody agrees something had to change. I think what you are seeing now is a natural evolution of figuring out how do you get a system to work efficiently and that is affordable,” he said.

“The good news for our region is our hospitals are doing outstanding work, and it is being ratified by outside, independent organizations,” Bucklew said.

The growing cost of health care today and inconsistent outcomes just is not palatable, Parker said. Where once health care was driven by volume because of payments made based on volume, it now has a different focus, at least regionally, he said.

State of Health Care Remains Uncertain - Parker
Tom Parker, president and CEO of the Upper Valley Medical Center

“UVMC continues to be a very busy place,” Parker added, noting that visits to the UVMC Emergency Department increased 10 percent last year. 

As more liberal requirements for Medicaid qualification is pushed by some, access to care for individuals is a growing concern regionally and nationally, the speakers noted.

“Here in Miami County, the UVMC Board of Directors is very proud of its financial partnerships with local organizations to help with access to care,” Parker said.  The UVMC Community Benefit Fund currently supports Health Partners of Miami County, the Miami County Dental Clinic and Hospice of Miami County.