The Affordable Care Act is coming. What does this mean to those in the health care
industry? What regulations must they meet? How can they adapt?
Thirty-seven Auburn University Physicians Executive MBA and seven Healthcare track Executive MBA students had the opportunity to explore those questions, and more, at the Medico-Legal
Aspects of Healthcare: Emerging Policy Issues seminar in Washington, D.C., March 17-20.
“How do we figure out how to make this (Obamacare) work, and what are the implications
for us now that this is law?” asked Auburn Torchmark Professor of Management and Academic
Director of the PEMBA program, Stanley Harris, who accompanied the students on the trip.
“It was an attempt to get a sense of the new health care policy and legal issues right
where it’s all happening. It’s the law of the land. Basically, they learned how to
operate within it. They have the realization that we are going to be doing it.”
The program was co-sponsored by the Auburn’s College of Business and the Southern
Medical Association. According to its agenda, the purpose was to “increase learner’s
knowledge and competence in responding to the changes brought about by healthcare
reform, including associated regulations and policies designed for cost containment.”
Upon leaving, participants were expected to be able to “Prepare strategies to successfully
manage the changes brought about by reform,” according to the program agenda.
“The students were stimulated by the seminar and clear about the challenges of improving
quality and access for patients,” Harris said.
Dr. Ronnie Alvarez, an OB/GYN at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and student
within the PEMBA program, said the seminar was very helpful.
“The Pemba course on health policy in Washington, D.C. could not have come at a better
time given the revolutionary changes that are occurring in the U.S. health care system,”
“While the challenges are many, there are many potential opportunities for those physicians
with business training and experience to help facilitate the type of changes that
will lead to higher quality and more cost effective care for our patients.”
Participants were educated on a number of initiatives, including the patient-centered
medical home philosophy, accountable care organizations and shared savings programs.
According to a definition released by the American College of Physicians, a patient-centered
medical is, “a team-based health care delivery model led by a physician, P.A., or
N.P. that provides comprehensive and continuous medical care to patients with the
goal of obtaining maximized health outcomes.”
Harris said an accountable care organization’s philosophy is to “an attempt to move
away from ‘fee-for-service;’ to go more toward ‘getting paid to cover a life.’” ACO’s
are efforts for physicians and hospitals to collaborate to provide quality care for
a patient population.
He said shared savings programs could be introduced in hospitals and encouraged doctors
to get involved and promote specific quality initiatives and cost savings for premium
Much of the ACA stems around quality of care – and healthcare providers can be rewarded
for their performance in that area.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear a number of lectures regarding business in the
health care industry.
A sample of these included:
- Role of Health Insurance Exchanges Under the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable
- Clinical Integration for Quality Improvement
Recovery Audit Contractors – Are They Here Yet?;
- Federal Health Care Policy, by Congressman Andrew Harris, M.D.;
- Medicare Fraud; and
- Sustainable Growth Formula and Future Payment Options.
The trip was part of the 21-month course in the PEMBA curriculum.