On Friday, Sept. 28, Barbara Tobias, MD, Robert & Myfanwy Smith Endowed Professor, UC Department of Family and Community Medicine and medical director of the Health Collaborative in Cincinnati, traveled to the White House in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Affordable Care Act with health care leaders from around the country.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in March 2010, created a number of new programs, resources and supports to improve quality, reduce costs and increase access to health care. The meeting was held to update clinical leaders from around the country about implementation efforts thus far and discuss improvement efforts to educate clinicians and patients about the act.
Below, Tobias recounts her day at the White House and what she learned during her time there.
"This meeting was held mainly to improve understanding and engagement surrounding the Affordable Care Act. There were about 150 attendees who were nominated by regional Human Health Services directors and professional societies. There was a wide range of health care leaders and disciplines in attendance—including medical directors from various care systems, chief medical and dental officers and graduate medical education experts, osteopaths, nurse anesthetists and practitioners from around the country. It was great to see so many experts from a variety of disciplines and to have discussions with those who have a different background and view of health care.
"The topic of conversation really centered on clinicians and health care providers engaging patients, colleagues and health care students and helping them better understand the implementation of the care act.
"Nancy-Ann DeParle, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff, delivered the welcoming remarks and Michael Hash, director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Health Reform, gave an update on the Affordable Care Act, followed by a panel of speakers who talked about lessons learned in the developing stages of the act.
"We then participated in small group discussions about the challenges we face in helping patients and colleagues understand the law acknowledging some of the fear and miscommunication that has surrounded it.
"It was a productive meeting, and inspiring to be in a room with professionals of many disciplines committed to helping patients and the general population become better informed about the law—whether it’s a 23-year-old with a pre-existing condition understanding how to stay on his or her parents’ insurance or helping a senior citizen receive preventive care or understand how to get reimbursement for medications. It’s also about educating our medical students on changes to come in the field. We recently held a panel discussion for first-year medical students about the ACA and will be holding another on Oct. 19 for the second-year students. Panelists presented their perspectives about the impact of the health reform law from the viewpoint of employers, hospitals, primary care and the community—discussing the act and what it means for clinicians as well as how they can relay that information to patients.
"Overall, there was a general sense of purpose, commitment and support for health reform but misinformation and confusion leads to fear; no one likes change. We need to stay patient focused and to help others understand that this is a first step to improving access to health care in the country. However, there is more work to be done.”
Tobias says a website was launched Friday to help clinicians learn more about the act and to help them explain the details to patients. For more information, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/clinicians.