Amherst Chamber of CommerceAmherst Chamber of Commerce

As National Debate Continues, Dr. Cropp and Independent Health Take Aim at Health Care Reform Locally

 

On Friday, March 30, 2012 president and CEO of Independent Health Dr. Michael Cropp made a presentation on achieving sustainable health care reform at the Amherst Chamber office to over thirty members.  The topic was especially significant due a recent wave of national concern surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court hearings that took place March 26-28 on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act.  Dr. Cropp explained that the act, which mandates all individuals purchase health care, resolves the problem of access to coverage, but doesn't fix the system completely.  The cost prohibitive nature of health care isn't something that can just be cured by national reform.  Health care is a local issue, and therefore, effective and lasting reform must happen on the local level, in communities like Western New York.

 

Dr. Cropp began his presentation with a graph that depicted the staggering growth rate of health care costs.  The graph showed that in 2021, if costs continue to rise at a rate of eight percent, the average family with a median income of $59, 859 will have to put $41,868 of it toward health care. 

 

There are factors that continue to keep health care costs growing uncontrollably. The first major factor that drives up the cost of health care is lifestyle.  Personal behaviors and unhealthy lifestyles that cause chronic disease account for more than 75 percent of medical costs.  Additional factors that cause prices to skyrocket are medical services that don't add value or contribute to positive outcomes, a lack of focus on preventative care, end-of-life costs and a slow adoption of best practice standards in the health care field.

 

In order to keep the price of care in check, Dr. Cropp recommends the following five actions must be taken on a local level:

 

Prevention and Wellness - The creation of culture of health would vastly improve Western New York's capacity for wellness.  Through educational initiatives that stress lifestyle choices and how they relate to health, members of the community are able to lead healthier lives.  Independent Health also looks to expand this area's capacity for health through the development of a new YMCA branch in Amherst and the Biggest Loser Resort in Niagara Falls.

 

Payment Reform - The health care system would benefit if the payment system was reformed in a way that rewarded quality outcomes rather than the quantity of care.  This would cause doctors to treat patients with only necessary procedures or medications and eliminate ones that don't net a positive result.  Payment reform can also be applied to patients.  Independent Health is currently creating products that lower out-of-pocket costs for individuals that take proactive steps toward better health, like losing weight or quitting smoking.

 

Enhance Primary Care - Enhancing the importance and utilization of primary care physicians would drastically unburden the health care system.  When patients regularly see their primary care physicians, they can more closely monitor their health and avoid costly trips to the hospital.

 

Alignment of Health System - Aligning the local health systems helps eliminate redundancy in care.  By instituting proven clinical strategies and best practices, health care professionals can follow a more uniform process when treating patients, instead of exploring avenues that don't add any value to the outcome.

 

Health Information - Taking advantage of health information technology allows a patient's medical records to be accessed electronically by health professionals anywhere.  This increases the accuracy and efficiency of care.

 

The message by Dr. Cropp was clear. Reforming the health care system must take place whether or not the Affordable Care Act is upheld.  Most importantly, successful reform won't be dependent on a U.S. Supreme Court justice; it will be dependent on the ability of local communities to take collaborative steps toward a sustainable health care model. 


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