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Will County Center for Economic Development Economic Report on Health Care

Health professionals seek to eliminate confusion around Affordable Care Act

3/31/2016, 4:01 p.m.
Ever since the lions' share of provisions went into effect with ObamaCare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ...

Ever since the lions' share of provisions went into effect with ObamaCare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there's been more confusion and misunderstanding about the changes in the health care system than any other single change under the Obama administration. Now that the Affordable Insurance Exchange has been in operation for more than a year, dissatisfaction with the process and mounting skepticism about its effectiveness have far outweighed any reported benefits. To that end,

the Will County Center for Economic Development is delivering its economic report on health care in the region, Thursday, April 7, from 7:30am-9:30am at the new Hilton Garden Inn in Bolingbrook, Illinois. The report will include a keynote address from A.J. Wilhelmi, the new President and CEO of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), followed by a panel discussion featuring Rick Mace, CEO of Adventist Medical Center, Bobbie Byrne, System VP and CIO of Edward Elmhurst Health Center; Gary Lipinski, CMO of Presence Health South Suburban Region and Wayne Aardsma, VP of Managed Care at Silver Cross Hospital.

Keynote speaker, A.J. Wilhelmi, President and CEO of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, based in Naperville, said the purpose of his talk is not just aimed at clearing up misconceptions concerning the Affordable Care Act, but to open up the discussion on changes in the system and the economic impact of the health care system on the local economy.

"The health care and social assistance sector is a major economic engine that drives the economy of Will County. The health and social services industry accounts for 12% of all jobs in Will County, There are over 10 thousand direct or indirect jobs generated by health care and the overall economic impact is just under 2 billion dollars. So hospitals are key to the economic health of Will County as well as the physical well-being of its residents. We as hospitals are pillars of health care and economic anchors in Will County."

Wilhelmi says that he sees the Affordable Care Act as just one driver the transformation of the health care system. "There are other significant components to that discussion, and I hope that my keynote address is just the starting point for some substantive discussion. The purpose of our discussion is threefold:

we want to achieve better health, better health care and provide all of that while giving people better value. We have to keep the discussion focused on transforming health care so that discussions on the state and federal level reflect the changes that are so important to individuals, their families, employers and the community at large. We all have a stake in transforming the health care system, both as heads of health care organizations, but also as citizens within the community at large."

Panel members echo Wilhelmi's views. "What we're trying to do is to establish a forum for people to discuss what is a very confusing and challenging time of change for the entire health care system of Illinois," Rick Mace, CEO of Adventist Medical Center, and a panel member, explained. "Illinois is struggling with the state budget, but also with medical funding in particular. Funding medicaid, especially under the Affordable Health Care Act has created a problem for all of the health care providers in Illinois, and we want to open up some dialogue so people can start addressing their concerns and finding some real solutions.

"Essentially, the problem is that we are moving from a fee per service system to one that is driven by a population model. That change in itself is creating a lot of confusion. What it's going to involve is a fundamental change in how we view the entire system and to develop a new approach that encompasses the change."

Change, Mace noted, is never easy, especially when the system has been so entrenched in practices and techniques that no longer apply under the new guidelines. "We have to find a way to address this change in a way that fundamentally changes how we look at the entire health care system. I don't think that will happen overnight. But, if we start the discussion now, we can start making some constructive moves.

Registration is now open for the April 7 event, which will be held from 7:30-9:30 a.m. at the new Hilton Garden Inn in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Tickets are $35 for current CED investors and $60 for non-investors; a breakfast buffet is included in the price. For more information, visit www.willcountyced.com