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Beyond Thursday

June 26, 2012
12:03 pm

I don’t want to minimize the importance of Thursday’s forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on health reform.  There is a great deal at stake.  Particularly if the Court declares the individual health insurance mandate unconstitutional but leaves insurance reforms in place, Congress is faced with the responsibility of finding mechanisms to bring more healthy Americans into the health coverage system.

But, even though Washington, D.C. and every cable news network is consumed with what might happen on Thursday, it’s worth nothing that there are substantial healthcare challenges that will continue to exist regardless of what the Court decides.  And there are healthcare delivery reforms that are and will continue to be ongoing well after the Justices have their say.

These points were made clear over the past few days by two leading health industry CEOs, both members of the Healthcare Leadership Council.

In a conversation with Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post’s well-read WonkBlog, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that the future of the healthcare system hinges far more on the industry’s ability to contain costs than it does on the Supreme Court decision.  His company is among those working on health delivery and payment structures that align reimbursement with quality and patient outcomes instead of quantity of services.

And in an interview with Bloomberg Television, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove left no doubt that health providers are already implementing cost-effective, quality-driven reforms.  He also raised an issue that will continue to be an important one well after the Supreme Court announcement Thursday.  Dr. Cosgrove correctly pointed out that, in order to get costs under control, the nation needs to place a stronger emphasis on wellness and disease prevention.

To truly understand where American healthcare is going in the next few years, you’ll gain more from reading and watching these interviews than you will from following Thursday’s wall-to-wall cable TV court analyses.

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