Advisory council considers impact of health care reform on Valley Medical Center

Quality health care, convenient local access, medical expertise and dependable health outcomes no matter what health care reform may bring or require were the top priorities of Valley Medical Center’s President’s Advisory Council.
The council members met for five session ending Oct. 26.
Accountable care organizations, local medical expertise and medical home were three consistent topics during the five weeks of discussion on the complexities of health care reform and the effect this reform could have on King County Public Hospital District No. 1 and its patients.
Approximately 30 district residents from a variety of business, civic, volunteer and community sectors attended the meetings. Topics discussed ranged from the role of public hospitals, quality measures and their importance, hospital finances and payor challenges accountable care organizations.
“Our board is very fortunate to have these educated, accomplished and passionate stakeholders help us understand the health care priorities and concerns of the citizens of our district,” Sue Bowman said, president of Valley Medical Center’s Board of Commissioners. “The message that has echoed through this series of meetings is clear: high-quality health care, close to home, is the priority.”
Feedback from breakout groups included surprise at the level of complexity and requirements to run a large hospital and clinic network, and the level of sophistication of Valley's hospital’s staff and technology, coupled with apprehension for the overwhelming financial challenges Valley faces as a public hospital. The current phenomenon of various health care organizations partnering to better posture for reform was a topic of keen interest.
Of great concern to the group was the probability of inadequate access to care for the uninsured and underinsured as primary care resources can’t keep up with the growing demand, the challenges for the hospital system if public hospitals are saddled with more Medicaid patients while private clinicians limit Medicaid and the negative impact this could have on Valley's ability to compete and maintain a state of the art facility. Council members stated clearly, the hospital must embrace the accountable care organization model to survive, but were concerned about how growth and stability of quality local services could be ensured in the future.
“Understanding health care reform is challenging, even for those of us in health care,” Bowman said. “Our hope is that after our spirited and informative discussions these influential community leaders will share a new level of understanding with their neighborhoods and organizations.”

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