Submitted by: Kelly Fox, CSL Behring

CSL Behring was pleased to co-sponsor the recent event, Examining Health Care Reform. With an audience of approximately 200 people from the local business community, it’s clear this is one hot topic.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., kicked off the event with a lively overview of the state of health care reform in terms of public perception, congressional debate and possible paths forward.

A panel representing leaders across the health care spectrum took questions from the audience about the potential impact reform could have. There was general agreement that in order to manage costs and provide quality health care, the real solution will need to address all parts of the health care system, not just one part of the system. As moderator Paul Keckley, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, described the first step in reform, “We’re going to get something, we aren’t sure when. It’s not going to be perfect and it will have more to do with access than bending the curve [to significantly reduce health care spending].”

Peter Turner, President of CSL Behring, spoke of the need to make sure we don’t sacrifice innovation as an unintended consequence of reform. In terms of specific recommendations that can help improve health and reduce spending, he discussed the benefits of having flexibility, when appropriate, to allow patients to receive therapies in the home instead of in an outpatient or hospital setting. This flexibility in site of service can be cost-effective and beneficial to the patient. He warned about the potential for unintended consequences of reform initiatives that could negatively impact people with rare and chronic conditions, in particular.

Joseph Frick, President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, noted the fragility of the current system and the paradox that people who have insurance coverage are generally satisfied with their coverage, but that a majority believes the whole system has to be reformed (reform the system, but don’t mess with my plan). He described how 20% of the people consume more than 70% of health care costs, so he advised focusing collaboration on two fronts: more appropriately managing chronic diseases and continuing to invest in prevention and wellness.

Jack Carroll Ph.D., CEO, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, highlighted concern that reductions in spending may negatively impact quality of health care. He spoke of the opportunity for hospitals to serve as integrators to improve patient care. He also noted the influence of culture and individual behavior in health—legislation cannot be the only answer to improving health in the country.

In terms of recommendations for reducing health care spending, James Goodyear, M.D., President, Pennsylvania Medical Society, cited the need for medical liability reform, reducing inefficiencies in the way care is delivered, reducing duplication and improving health information technology.

I’d like to thank the GPCC for organizing this successful event and to the speakers and panelists for an informative and provocative discussion of this influential topic.

View photos from the event.