"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Averting the Fiscal Cliff

Happy New Year!  I had a wonderful time off over Christmas having the opportunity to visit with family.  It is great to be back; actually, I got back to work on Monday and worked yesterday as well. A lot was accomplished in catching up without back-to-back meetings each day. 

Now for averting the fiscal cliff.  Both the Senate and the House averted the cliff by passing legislation that increases taxes but does not address spending.  The spending piece will come in two months when they have to address sequestration.  Rest assured, hospitals will be in their sights and our revenues will be cut. 

Quite honestly, there is waste in health care as is the case in every industry:  defense, banking, manufacturing, government, education and the list goes on.  I know of many hospitals across the country and in Maryland that are getting cost out of the system, but there are still some hospitals that still don't get it.  They have no desire to bend the cost curve.  There are hospitals that want us to send them patients for additional procedures, testing and admissions as we try to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital.  We are trying to do the right thing by focusing on improving the care of the patient while bending the cost curve (reducing health care costs).  These hospitals see this as an opportunity to game the system.  At WMHS, we will refer patients in need of care elsewhere, but only do so if it's in the best interest of the patient, not enhancing the profitability of a tertiary care facility.  Given the opportunity, all hospitals will do the right thing, but give us that opportunity.  Don't blindly cut revenues across the board.  Set the expectations of hospitals under a given time frame and we'll get there.  At the same time, do something to address misaligned incentives between hospitals and physicians, legislate tort reform and relax the 122,000 federal regulations that hospitals must adhere to.  

Have a wonderful 2013!

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