Daniel Hilferty, CEO of IBC, presents the insurers' perspective on the future of health care
Center City symposium features top speakers, including former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter
Philadelphia, PA - April 14, 2011 - The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is one of our nation's most complex and sweeping pieces of legislation. A year since its passage, the law still generates many questions about its strengths, vulnerabilities, and potential staying power. In a symposium today attended by about 130 business leaders at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia and hosted by Dilworth Paxson, L.L.P, Independence Blue Cross president and chief executive officer Daniel J. Hilferty joined health care, legal, and political experts to discuss current trends and how the law affects insurers, physicians, hospitals, and others.
In a segment of the symposium about the affect of health care reform on insurers, Hilferty opened by saying that the current status of health care is "unsustainable" and that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a good first step to jump-start the transformation of our health care system. With health care now consuming 16 percent of our nation's Gross Domestic Product, and that number expected to grow to 25 percent by 2025, he said that all players in health care - insurers, physicians, hospitals, employers, and consumers - need to change to achieve the goals of health care reform: cover more people, raise the quality of care, and lower costs.
Former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter moderated the session and began with remarks about the law, saying it was "one of the most contentious pieces of legislation I've seen in my 30 years in Washington." He provided a brief summary of how the law was finally passed at midnight on Christmas Eve in 2009. He also spoke about his personal experience travelling through Pennsylvania talking about the legislation to constituents in the summer of 2009. He recounted the emotionally charged town hall meeting he attended at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, which included "a raucous debate with catcalls and insults."
Pointing out that the provisions of the law that have gone into effect in its first year were aimed primarily at reforming the health insurance industry, Hilferty said, "The new health care law changes how health care is delivered, sold, and purchased by consumers."
He touched upon health care exchanges - online marketplaces where people can comparison shop for health plans beginning in 2014 - but said there are a lot of outstanding questions about how these will work. "What we don't know about exchanges would fill almost as many pages as the 2,000 page reform law itself, such as who will manage the exchanges, what products will be available, and whether employers will choose to use exchanges."
He also said that the law addresses issues about costs and the quality of health care, but doesn't go far enough. "The law does not address the factors that make health care very expensive, and that make health insurance premiums go up," he said, "such as new technology, new drugs and unhealthy lifestyles."
Following Hilferty, New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews provided his perspective on the law's purpose, which he described is to remedy the contradictions that exist between the U.S. having the best health care system in the world, and a legal and economic system that prevents it from operating in the most cost effective way.
Also joining the discussion were Dr. Robert Barchi, president, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, who talked about what reform means for physicians and hospitals. He spoke about the importance of Accountable Care Organizations, and the role they could play in changing the health care delivery system from one focused on "the more you do, the more you get paid" to one focused on producing better health outcomes. Barchi also said 150,000 more doctors are needed to care for 35 million additional people who will be able to get coverage because of provisions in the health care reform law.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.1 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.