Healthcare Business News
John Thomas, Chief of Editorial Operations, Modern Healthcare

In the right direction

Obama wants to move us 'forward' during his second term, but will we follow?

By John D. Thomas
Posted: November 10, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

The headline on the cover of our magazine this week—“Forward”—is an obvious reference to the slogan used by the Barack Obama campaign during this election season. It's also meant to strike an optimistic and hopeful note—now that we know who our president will be for the next four years, perhaps our legislators in Washington can finally come together to loosen the shackles of gridlock, hug it out across the aisle and make substantial progress on major issues, including healthcare, that have been languishing in partisan purgatory.

This is a big, often messy country, though, and not everyone feels energized and inspired by the possibilities of a second Obama term. My favorite quote reacting to the president's re-election victory came from the sometimes memory-challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose words seemed to pop out of some strange parallel political universe: “The American people have given President Obama a chance to start over. He can take steps this time to govern responsibly. He can work with, not against, Republicans in Congress and governors around the nation. He can put an end to his reckless disregard for our rule of law and spare our nation another long, painful and expensive four years for American families, taxpayers and employers. We must hold his and Congress' feet to the fire to once and for all cut spending, repeal Obamacare and withdraw federal encroachment into state decision-making and personal liberties. Our nation's long-term prosperity and security absolutely depends on it.”

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Yes, Perry often seems to shuffle to the beat of a very different drum.

Perry's double-reverse take on what the president needs to (un)accomplish over the next four years did make us wonder what our readers and website users are thinking about what lies ahead for them during a second Obama term. We reached out to you with an online survey the morning after the election to find out. The results were not cheery.

We asked whether continuing to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would have a positive or negative impact on your business' bottom line. Of the more than 800 responses we received, an overwhelming 67% said the impact would be negative.

We asked if a Romney victory and possible repeal of the ACA would have been better for your bottom line. About 57% said yes, 31% said no, and 12% were unsure.

We also received more than 50 pages of personal responses from readers who weighed in on the one thing the Obama administration can do immediately to help healthcare executives benefit most from healthcare reform and the one thing they would change about the ACA to make it better for their business.

Almost 50 people simply wrote, “Repeal it,” so Perry's point of view is not rare.

Obviously, that's not going to happen.

Many others, however, took the opportunity to provide some terrific insight into the process and suggested constructive and logical ways the healthcare reform law could be amended so that it would have a more positive impact on the way they do business. Many respondents advocated strongly for simplification (“Break it down and simplify the act so it is easy to read and is understandable.”), while others encouraged open communication (“Establish a forum for dialogue on how best to implement and consider variables from state to state.”).

Even though there were a lot of divergent opinions expressed in our survey, now that Obama has won a second term, his signature legislation will move forward, so the more the industry tries to embrace it and work with it, the better off we'll be. Perhaps one of our survey respondents summed up the situation best: “Make it all user-friendly and be patient for providers and systems to put in place.”

—John D. Thomas, Chief of Editorial Operations

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