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Sea Change in Healthcare
Chamber Leadership Circle investors got an incredible opportunity this Wednesday. The heads of the region’s major medical systems – Medical University of South Carolina, Roper St. Francis, Trident Health and East Cooper Medical – sat together on a panel discussing all things healthcare. Of course the conversation went immediately to public policy. For those who weren’t able to make it, here are my biggest takeaways from the insightful discussion:
- Even considering Obamacare’s significant flaws, the current uncertainty and prospects of repeal without sufficient replacement may actually be worse. Not knowing makes budgeting almost impossible.
- Caring for the uninsured in emergency rooms is still a reality that shrinks margins for healthcare providers and drives up costs for everyone. Access to primary care is still a major concern.
- The Charleston region is a magnet for talent and our hospitals are doing well recruiting top medical professionals to move here. But housing costs are a major barrier for many hospital staff and the lack of attainable housing nearby creates a talent retention challenge for hospitals.
- We are transitioning from an illness-based payment system to a health outcomes-based payment system. This sea change essentially means block payments for care and incentives for better health rather than reimbursement for procedures. The shift is going to be messy and take time.
On that last point, Dr. David Cole from Medical University of South Carolina quite pointedly said, “If the health care industry drives this transition, it will probably fail.” He urged the crowd to lead from where they are, as employers and individuals. That means promoting wellness practices in your company, engaging in partnerships that will build healthier communities and learning about and advocating for health-related issues and causes.
Employee health insurance benefits are among many companies largest expense lines. We’re all in the health care business, so we need to all pay attention to the changes in progress.
State Budget Finalized
After weeks of negotiations, the budget conference committee came to an agreement last week. On Tuesday, the General Assembly returned to Columbia to approve the conference report of a roughly $8 billion general fund budget. Items of note in the budget deal include:
- $150 million for the State Pension System covering half the employer contribution
- $29 million for new school buses
- $68 million for Hurricane Matthew clean up
- An increase of $60 million in K-12 per pupil funding (an additional $75 per student)
- Higher education received an $11 million increase
Both Chambers deliberated the conference report and it was adopted on Tuesday afternoon. The budget and capital reserve bill are on the Governor’s desk. Unless he decides to make drastic vetoes to this year’s budget, both the House and Senate leaders decided they will take up minor vetoes when they return in January. So unless something unforeseen happens, the 2017 legislation is over for the remainder of the year.