James R. Tallon, Jr., a nationally recognized health care policy leader and president of the United Hospital Fund of New York speaks at the Binghamton University Forum, which presented a panel discussion, "Critical Issues Forum - Federal Healthcare Reform: The good, the bad and the ugly," at Old Union Hall in the University Union. The panel was moderated by Susan Arbetter, broadcast journalist and host of Capitol Pressroom. Other panelists were Jeffery K. Davis, a consultant who specializeds in public policy and communications issues with a particular emphasis on health policy; and Kyle Brittingham, the director of the Small Business Assistance Program at the Community Service Society.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
University Forum examines Affordable Care Act
March 24, 2014Tweet
Is the Affordable Care Act a big fix or a big mess? That was the question on the minds of healthcare experts at a recent Binghamton University Forum event.
“This is probably one of the most complicated, brain-twisting topics that you could ever sink your teeth into,” said Susan Arbetter, host of The Capitol Pressroom and moderator for “Federal Healthcare Reform: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” held in Old Union Hall on March 21.
Three panelists joined Arbetter to address this polarizing issue: James Tallon, president of the United Hospital Fund of New York; Kyle Brittingham, director of the Small Business Assistance Program; and Jeff Davis, a health policy consultant.
President Harvey Stenger highlighted the historical significance of the Affordable Care Act in his opening remarks.
“The Affordable Care Act is certainly something that is going to be wrapped in history for a long time,” Stenger said. “No matter what side you’re on, it’s going to impact you.”
He noted that Binghamton University is addressing the issue of rising healthcare costs through research in the areas of biofilms, nanotechnology, advanced diagnostics in imaging, neuroscience, addiction research and healthcare delivery.
“Binghamton University has had an active role in this, and we’re taking a more active role because we know that rising healthcare costs can be addressed if you can provide it more efficiently,” he said.
Efficiency is certainly an issue to Davis, who referred to the Affordable Care Act as a “remarkably fragmented process.” He said that the government has done a terrible job of explaining the system to the country.
“We go out of our way to make this so remarkably complicated,” Davis said. “We’ve avoided ever sitting down with the country and saying ‘Look at it. This is what healthcare is. This is a package that as Americans we all have a reason to expect to get. Here’s how we pay for it. Here’s why.’”
Despite some initial hiccups – the HealthCare.gov website notoriously crashed on its Oct. 1, 2013 launch date – Tallon considers the Affordable Care Act “a singular achievement,” one that has changed healthcare fundamentally.
“We have changed the fundamental structure of the delivery and financing of health services, and will over the rest of this decade,” said Tallon. “We have gone from being a volume-based system to…a value-based system.”
Davis, who called the Affordable Care Act “a start, not a finish,” disagrees.
“What (the Affordable Care Act) isn’t is a wholesale restructuring and rationalization of how we deliver and pay for healthcare,” Davis said. “It has the potential to become that, but we’re not there yet.”
Brittingham, who helps small businesses take advantage of and comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, denied the notion that the law hurts small businesses.
“Those businesses have an opportunity for the first time, in a decade, to offer health insurance and be able to answer the question ‘What are your benefits?’ in the affirmative and attract good talent,” Brittingham said.
Tallon, who said the old healthcare system was driving the country into bankruptcy, said that the country will be better off over time thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
“For me, this confused system is one I can feel more comfortable with,” Tallon said.
While he may not be comfortable with the Affordable Car Act, Davis praised the forum, noting that the country needs to hold these types of discussions to better address its healthcare needs.
“I think It’s also important for people like us — just regular civilians — to get involved in the discussion that gets past ideological divisions and starts talking about what we think healthcare needs to be in this country.”