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Health experts weigh effect of Massachusetts and national health reform at Regis College

April 2, 2013

Change is happening, and challenges in synchronizing state and federal changes are inevitable. Close to the March 23 anniversary of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), with its impact still uncertain, the Regis Leadership Series on Health series focused on the tests that lie ahead.

McDonough, Doonan, Hays, Langer, Lindsey

Michael Doonan, PhD“Massachusetts health care reform created a new model and broke the mold. But now we have to sync up with Federal reform,” said Michael Doonan, PhD, Assistant Professor at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and Executive Director Massachusetts Health Policy Forum.

While not fully implemented, ACA is already affecting the health care system, reducing hospital readmissions, increasing access and enhancing preventive care. Access and quality will continue to dominate the national discussion.

Massachusetts led the way with state law that, since 2006, has increased access. Today more than 98 percent of people in the state are covered. Now cost containment is a major issue and may require difficult adjustments.

According to Carolyn Langer, MD, JD, MPH, MassHealth Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Office of Clinical Affairs at UMass Medical School, the Massachusetts Primary Care Payment Reform Initiative proposes the Comprehensive Primary Care Payment Reform (CPCP), which is designed to improve access to primary care, enhance patient experience, quality, and efficiency through care management and coordination and integration of behavioral health with primary care. Components of CPCP include fee-for-service billable primary care services, such as evaluation and management of acute illness; non-billable medical home activities; and behavioral health services. “This gives practices the flexibility to provide care as the patient needs it,” said Langer.

John McDonough, DPH, MPAJohn McDonough, DPH, MPA, Professor at Harvard School of Public Health, started fighting for health care as a state legislator decades ago. At Regis, he discussed the major national reforms that will take effect on January 1, 2014, including guaranteed coverage, subsidies and new vehicles for people to buy insurance. “It will be like Orbitz for health insurance,” said McDonough. Although there are many changes, the one thing we can take comfort in is that we are all in it together. Doonan noted that “we can all contribute to this health care reform by getting engaged, talking to our legislators and being here at lectures like these to get informed.”

Gene Lindsey, MDGene Lindsey, MD, President and CEO of Atrius Health and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, concurred, noting that we are in the process of adaptive change, but we are doing it together.

Antoinette Hays, PhD, RN, President of Regis College, moderated the panel of experts. The topic of the panel of speakers attracted more than 200 attendees including nurses, social workers, nursing students and faculty from the College and other universities as well as local citizens. In fact, some members of the audience, like Kevin Bochicchio, came from as far away as Worcester to hear the top-notch panel, “at the forefront of reform.” Regis Nursing graduate student Jenna Andrade came on her own accord and not as a requirement from a class because she thought it was good career enrichment and wants to keep up on relevant topics in health care.

The Regis College Leadership Series on Health was established in 2007 by former President Mary Jane England, MD, in partnership with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. The unique series of lectures designed to challenge the community to develop new skills to build awareness of contemporary health and wellness issues and learn to effect positive change. The second spring 2013 event will be held on April 24 and will explore new developments in the treatment of allergies, including celiac disease.

The panels are free and open to the public. Pre-registration by the Friday prior to each event is available, and preferred, for nurses and social workers who wish to earn free contact hours. The series is hosted in partnership with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. For more information, call 781-768-7120, or e-mail presidents.lectureseries@regiscollege.edu. Regis College is located at 235 Wellesley St., Weston.

This continuing nursing education activity was approved by the Massachusetts Association for Registered Nurses, Inc., an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s COA.

Application for social work continuing education credits has been submitted. Please contact carol.dorr@regiscollege.edu, for the status of social work CE accreditation.

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