Health System Leaders Issue Statement in Support of Medicaid Expansion, Gains Made Under the ACA

March 6, 2017
Amid reports that Republican U.S. lawmakers expect to unveil, as soon as this week, the text of long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the leaders of several prominent health systems gathered in Washington, D.C. today for a panel discussion about protecting innovation and coverage.

Amid reports that a senior Republican Congressional aide said on Sunday that Republican U.S. lawmakers expect to unveil this week the text of long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the leaders of several prominent health systems gathered in Washington, D.C. today for a panel discussion about protecting innovation and coverage.

The event, titled “Too Much to Lose: Protecting Patients, Protecting Progress in Health Care,” was sponsored by the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation (a center of Community Catalyst), The Commonwealth Fund, Missouri Foundation for Health and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

The event in D.C. comes at a time when Republican lawmakers continue in their efforts to develop legislation to repeal and replace the Obamacare law. According to a Reuters article, Republican U.S. lawmakers expect to unveil this week the text of long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace the Obamacare healthcare law, one of President Donald Trump's top legislative priorities, a senior Republican congressional aide said on Sunday.

The panel discussion at the event focused on highlighting innovation made possible by coverage expansions in the ACA, also referred to as Obamacare.

Health system leaders who spoke at the event included Glenn Crotty, Jr., M.D., executive vice president and COO at the Charleston Area Medical Center Health System (Charleston, WV); Timothy Ferris, M.D., senior vice president for Population Health Management at Partners HealthCare (Boston, MA); Shelly Schlenker, vice president of Public Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations for Dignity Health (headquartered in San Francisco, CA); and Steven M. Safyer, M.D., president and CEO at Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, NY). David Blumenthal, M.D., president of The Commonwealth Fund, and Donald Berwick, M.D., president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), also spoke at the event.

“The Affordable Care Act has enabled us, not only to care for everyone who needs it – the importance of which cannot be overstated – but also to get better at it. Under the ACA, we are evolving to focus more on patient outcomes to create a better, more efficient health system. What Congress is doing, could stall that work indefinitely, bringing us back to a system no one wants, rather than forward to the system everyone needs,” Kate Walsh, President and CEO, Boston Medical Center (Boston, MA), said in a prepared statement.

 “Medicaid expansion has enabled Dignity Health to initiate pilot programs with managed Medicaid plans that improve quality and address social determinants of health. As the largest private Medi-Cal provider in California, we know that one in three adults is insured by Medicaid. Without the expansion, most Medicaid beneficiaries will revert back to having no insurance, forgoing services and accessing care through emergency rooms. They will receive less preventive and coordinated care and we will have a more limited ability to advance innovative care models,” Shelly Schlenker, vice president of public policy, advocacy and government relations for Dignity Health (San Francisco, CA), said in a prepared statement.

Further, more than 20 national health system executive leaders have signed a consensus statement calling for policies to protect and continue robust coverage, quality improvement and a continued drive towards high-value comprehensive, coordinated care.

The statement reads: “Repealing the ACA without a replacement plan in place that keeps people covered with affordable, high-quality insurance will severely disrupt important progress in improving the quality and reducing the cost of care. Nobody can have high quality care if they can't get care in the first place. The ACA’s expansion of coverage, including a Medicaid program with comprehensive benefits, is an essential component of those efforts.”

Further, the statement read, “We urge all policy makers to ensure—particularly for low-income individuals, children and families—that robust coverage, quality improvement, and a focus on continuing to drive the movement towards high value, comprehensive, and coordinated care remain at the heart of our American health care policies.”

The statement was signed by:

Association of American Medical Colleges – Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., president & CEO

Baylor Scott and White Health– Joel Allison, Former CEO

Boston Children’s Hospital – Sandra L. Fenwick, president and CEO

Boston Medical Center – Kate Walsh, president and CEO

Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers – Jeffrey Brenner, M.D., executive director

Catholic Health Association of the United States – Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president and CEO

Charleston Area Medical Center – Glenn Crotty, Jr. M.D., executive vice president and COO

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – Michael Fisher, president and CEO

Coastal Medical – G. Alan Kurose, M.D., president and CEO

Dignity Health – Lloyd Dean, president and CEO | Shelly Schlenker, vice president of public policy, advocacy and government relations

GBMC HealthCare System – John Cessare, M.D., president and CEO

Institute for Healthcare Improvement – Derek Feeley, president and CEO

Iora Health – Rushika Fernandopulle, M.D., co-founder and CEO

McLeod Health – Rob Colones, president and CEO

Montefiore Medicine – Steven M. Safyer, M.D., president and CEO

MUSC Health System – Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO

NYC Health + Hospitals – Stanley Brezenoff, interim president and CEO

Partners HealthCare – Timothy Ferris, M.D., senior vice president for population health

management

SSM Health – Bill Thompson, president and CEO | Michael Panicola, senior vice president of mission, legal and government affairs | Sister Mary Jean Ryan, former board chair, president and CEO

Sutter Health – Sarah Krevans, president and CEO

Trinity Health Livonia, MI – Richard J. Gilfillan, M.D., president and CEO

UMass Memorial Health Care – Eric Dickson, M.D., president and CEO

UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) – Diane P. Holder, executive vice president

Virginia Mason Health System – Gary Kaplan, M.D., chairman and CEO

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