Show Coverage: Health plans must be resilient

June 16, 2011

Health plans must be resilient and look for opportunities to innovate, collaborate and engage in the policy process, according to former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who spoke this morning. He advocates for a bipartisan approach.

Health plans must be resilient and look for opportunities to innovate, collaborate and engage in the policy process, according to former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who spoke this morning. He advocates for a bipartisan approach.

"Given the choice between shifting costs or reducing them, I hope we choose the latter," he said.

He believes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will play out on four levels: the legal level with challenges to the constitutionality of the act; the policy level with intense disagreement as to the role of government in healthcare; the administrative level where health plans are already implementing regulations such as the minimum medical loss ratios; and the infrastructure level in which retooling is occurring in the states to address Medicaid.

Daschle also recommends strong leadership from plans because there is an overall agreement that the nation needs a high-performance, high-value healthcare system. Many challenging issues can be solved with the right attitude. Plans that innovate will be the winners.

"We have never needed leadership more than we do now as we face these transformational times," he said.

Former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg also spoke this morning, specifically demonstrating the impact of the nation's debt as it relates to healthcare. Debt will double in five years if it continues at its current pace.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security represents $81 trillion in unfunded liability, and it exceeds our net worth as a nation, he said.

For example, in 1950, there were 16.5 people contributing to the Medicare system for every beneficiary drawing from it. Contrast that to today in which there are just over two people contributing for every beneficiary.

Gregg's advice is to step up sooner rather than later to stem the rising debt problem. Pressure will come down intensely on the healthcare industry overall from the federal government as it tries to rein in spending, he said.