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Healthcare Professionals / Progress Notes / Government Affairs / Looking ahead in 2015: big changes or more gridlock?

Looking ahead in 2015: big changes or more gridlock?

By Jo Ann Lawer, Director, Government Affairs

A new Governor and Republican-led state General Assembly and Congress could mean big changes – or more gridlock.  While no one knows which path state or federal leaders will take, we know some important influencing factors and potential issues to watch:


  • Gov.-elect Tom Wolf wants a gas extraction tax to help address a budget deficit and increase education funding.  The Speaker of the House wants liquor privatization, and Senate leadership wants pension and Medicaid reform.  Will the new governor be able to forge working relationships with legislative leaders to reach agreements on any of these issues?

  • Wolf campaigned that he would support Medicaid expansion.  Gov. Tom Corbett’s Healthy PA went into effect Jan. 1, with 100,000 new enrollees. There are questions about Healthy PA limiting services.  Will Wolf replace Healthy PA with ACA Medicaid expansion?  Are we ready for this increased demand for primary-care services?  Even with expanded access, how do hospitals and physicians work with patients to use primary care effectively?

  • Full scope of licensing legislation is expected to be introduced – again.  How do physicians, nurses and other providers work together to shape a bill that works in a healthcare environment that demands both improved outcomes and cost-effectiveness?

  • Billing will continue to be a focal point for questions and concerns from the media and patients.  What policy changes are needed to streamline the current payment system?

At the federal level

  • House and Senate leadership are focused on redressing the ACA in some form.  While an overall repeal is unlikely, what “tweaks” should hospitals and physicians propose to help shape a more effective healthcare system?

  • Tax reform and jobs are high-profile topics, but will the politics of the 2016 election forestall the bipartisan effort this type of legislation would require?

  • In the next few months, we again face several key budget deadlines, and hospitals continue to be at risk as key targets for cost savings.  Congress is largely deaf to hospital budget concerns.  How do hospitals and physicians band together to propose new solutions and avoid being pitted against each other?

  • The enhanced payment for primary-care physicians and chronic SGR dilemma still provoke interest in Congress, but hospitals and physicians need to develop compromise proposals that a broad coalition of providers can support if we are to escape the current “kick-the-can-down-the-road” syndrome.


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