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Chris Steel on the Senate healthcare vote, market uncertainties and accountable care

Chris Steel, global head of healthcare at PA Consulting Group, shares insights on the Senate healthcare vote, uncertainties in the US healthcare market, and accountable care during Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Markets” program. 

Commenting on uncertainties surrounding US healthcare legislation, Chris states: As we just heard, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainly, and what our clients look to do is try to find certainty wherever they can in responding to a situation like this. So whichever way it goes it’s pretty clear at this point that the Medicaid expansion plans under Obamacare will be really reigned back in. There is thus going to be a real focus on cost reduction, wherever you’re reigning something in like that you're reducing volume. Under Obamacare, the opportunity presented to providers was to get that increased volume, on the other hand the downside was the reimbursement was going to be somewhat reduced, more focused on value. With this new legislation what we’re likely to see is a reduction in volume but no subsequent increase or compensatory increase in the level of reimbursement, and that’s going to create a real challenge. 

Reflecting on the Senate motion to proceed, Chris adds: To some degree the politics will carry the day, but ultimately I think whatever is passed, there will need to be some nod to the Medicare issue which is affecting so many millions of people in states where we have significant Republican majorities and Republican presence in the Senate and the House. 

On what’s next, Chris says: I think one of the things we’ll see is a lot of the solutions that industry is looking at may not be in healthcare per say. So with accountable care, we are being reimbursed on our ability to keep populations healthy. So for example the fresh food pharmacy idea where for a relatively limited amount of money you can supply the poorest people in your community with fresh food rather than them having them coming into expensive points of care like emergency rooms for treatment. There is another example from my home state Massachusetts. In May, with the pollen, they know that they typically get a lot of asthma sufferers coming into an emergency room. It’s much cheaper for them just to buy those folks an air conditioner rather than treat them in hospital. So you’ve got lots of interesting innovative solutions like that coming through. 

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