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Health-care reform: The local impact

Augusta Health CEO keeps tabs on latest developments

Story by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Augusta Health CEO Mary Mannix had with her a stack of memos marked up in yellow highlighter and red ink. The situation: that day’s developments on Capitol Hill relative to health-care reform.

“The timing, the sequencing and the process in all of the key areas to health-care reform are of particular interest to Augusta Health and frankly any other health-care system in the nation,” said Mannix, who is never too far away from what is going on in Washington on health care.

Not that Mannix has any better handle on the reform effort than anybody else. “It’s about as clear as mud,” is how Mannix put it.

“The hospital and health-care industry want to make their contribution to our nation’s health. That means being part of the solution,” said Mannix, but being part of the solution could lead to some problems at Augusta Health.

Augusta Health is one of a number of hospitals nationwide with a high proportion of Medicare and Medicaid patients that qualify for reimbursements from the Medicare and Medicaid programs known as disproportionate share payments. It’s clear, Mannix said, “that there are going to be changes to how we’re reimbursed for patients that are currently getting covered through that disproportionate share payment. We just don’t know the extent of that yet,” Mannix said.

“Obviously we want to see access improve. We want to see coverage improved. But we think the timing of that has to be particularly important. We don’t think it would be a good thing to reduce our reimbursement rates before our access has reached the many millions of people that really need it,” Mannix said.

Another day, another stack of memos – that’s the routine for hospital CEOs right now.

“It’s a very complex topic, and the pace on which it’s been developing has been pretty rapid. To understand the implications, I think, is going to take time,” Mannix said.

  


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