As it nears the takeoff point, Obamacare gets an “A” for increased access but just average grades for implementation, so far.
That was the consensus view among a panel of health care experts at the kickoff on Sept. 17 for California Lutheran University’s Corporate Leader’s Breakfast series.
Dr. Matteo Dinolfo of UCLA Health gave the Affordable Care Act the highest grade, a “B” for services delivery as he predicted more consolidation in the industry and increased pressure for a single-payer system.
“The federal government’s hand has been strengthened,” particularly in the area of mandating electronic records, he told about 400 business and community leaders at the Ronald Reagan Library & Presidential Museum in Simi Valley.
Steve Sell, president of Health Net’s Western Region warned that the execution so far of Obamacare has led to a considerable amount of uncertainty about costs. “For California” and the health care exchange being rolled out this fall he said, “the question is will you make it work — or see a rate shock.”
Panelist Greg Angle, CEO of Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, said demand for services could soar as more participants flood the system. “There is the potential for us to get crushed,” he said, as thousands of new patients, plus new government mandates for behavioral changes come into place.
The panelists told moderator Jim Rondeau of KCLU that some consolidation of services, conversion to electronic medical records and a new way of thinking about costs are in the cards as ACA implementation proceeds.
But Dinolfo warned that creating a digital record of millions of Californians has huge start-up expenses. “The costs are not going down. The complexity is startling and it’s a wake-up call for physicians,’’ he said.
Angle said that ACA could provide some unseen benefits for controlling costs, including group visits where patients with common ailments get a chance to interact. “Patients could learn from other patients,” he said.