A Healthy Dose at the 2019 Wharton Conference
If you ran CMS for a day, what policy would you advocate to make healthcare better in America?
In this special episode of A Healthy Dose, we dive into policy and population health topics with the leaders of Geisinger, AirNYC, and Iora Health.
As a graduate from a certain “school up north”, I was honored to be invited to the Wharton Healthcare Conference to host a special AHD podcast featuring some of the leading practitioners and experts in value-based care. It also allowed me to poke a little fun at the host school who lives in infamy for granting a diploma to our current President.
A quick glance through my Twitter account will reveal that I am clearly no fan of the current administration. But I did hang around the conference after the podcast to listen to the head of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, speak. And I have to be honest … I like a lot of what she said and I like a lot of what she is doing!
In an otherwise depressing and deceptive era of politics and policy-making, Secretary Verma and her innovation deputy, Adam Boehler, are real bright spots in D.C. They have shepherded a lot of policy in a relatively short period of time, attempting to move our healthcare system towards a more value-based orientation.
While I may not agree with all the specifics, they should be applauded for their efforts to push the ball forward, which include:
- Forcing providers and payers to enable healthcare data access and interoperability
- Allowing Medicare Advantage plans to pay for coverage of social determinants of health — a topic we touched on a bunch during the Wharton panel
- Piloting a new program which allows ambulance companies to deliver on-the-scene or telehealth services to Medicare patients, and transport them to alternative care venues, such as primary care doctors’ offices or urgent-care clinics.
In addition to these already announced initiatives, the leaders at CMS are also working on efforts to reduce drug pricing in our country, to redesign payment and programs to promote primary care, and to improve the access and affordability of kidney care. As a citizen who cares deeply about improving our healthcare industry, I’m thankful for this progressive policymaking.
As a citizen, it’s also very rare that you get to be in the same room and have the ear of a policy-maker who literally controls $1.3 trillion of healthcare spend in our country. So I thought I would end our podcast by asking each of our very distinguished panelists the following question:
If you were Secretary Verma, what would be the one policy change that you would make to better healthcare in America?
Rushika Fernandopulle: “Real price transparency.”
Shoshanah Brown: “Deal with the housing, food insecurity, mass incarceration, and the education system that’s completely unjust. We have to deal with our zip code problem and inequalities to really make an impact on healthcare.”
Jaewon Ryu: “Creating payment models that move more providers aggressively towards value-based care. Once we align care along those incentives we’ll see better health outcomes.”
….and, of course my beloved, now 50-year-old co-host, Trevor Price, added his two cents: “I agree with Shoshannah. Sixty percent of our healthcare medical spend come from the 10 percent who are the frailest and most vulnerable in our country. Everyone within that 10 percent struggle with one or many social determinants such as food and housing insecurity, behavioral health problems, and more.”
Rushika Fernandopulle is co-founder and CEO of Iora Health, a primary care provider that allows small medical practices to lower healthcare costs and improve quality and experience by better managing their patients with complex, chronic disease.