Welcome to the dog days of summer. The phrase suggests unhurried relaxation and unharried contemplation. We can use the breather, given what is on the horizon in healthcare.
While the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in late June, challenges to the legislation are far from over. Maine, my dog days’ den of choice for a vacation, has interpreted the High Court’s ruling as giving states more leeway in the way they manage Medicaid programs. Maine’s governor, Paul R. LePage, announced plans to trim the state’s Medicaid rolls by 20,000, skipping the step of seeking a federal waiver beforehand.
PPACA—and more importantly, the patients in Maine, where in 2010 more than one of every 10 citizens lived below the poverty level—no doubt will remain in the political crossfire as the November election nears.
Despite the volatility, providers appear to be going forward with reform in response to both external forces, such as reimbursement cuts, and an internal recognition that change is needed.
One of those changes is reducing healthcare costs. In this month’s cover story (page 6), personnel at three hospitals spell out strategies for cutting costs. They base their decisions on clinical and economic evidence in an effort to serve both patients and providers well.
Our synopsis of the recent MedAxiom Cardiovascular Service Line Management Symposium (page 20) offers practical advice for navigating a tough financial landscape while providing quality patient care. We also look at emerging technologies and innovative imaging infrastructure in this issue.
I expect politics will dominate many conversations in the coming months. The gauntlet tossed by Maine’s state administration probably won’t be the last or loudest challenge. But providers already have shown they can disregard the din and make change happen. They have my vote of confidence.