Speaker, Mercy CEO discuss future of health careWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
One-hundred-and-twenty-five business, government and community leaders gathered at a Mercy event Feb. 7 to view a presentation on the future of health care.
Mercy’s Community Leader Breakfast, emceed by Chrys Peterson of WTOL 11 at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion, featured talks by Andrea Price, Mercy president and CEO, and Bradford S. Koles Jr., executive director of the Advisory Board Company, a health care research firm.
Despite tough economic times and a changing American dream, Price said Mercy is still innovating with its use of tomosynthesis, a new 3-D mammogram technology, digital records and management styles that involve physicians.
“Every day, the health care industry is on the frontier,” Price said. “I see something wonderful on the other side of reshaping health care.”
“There is no room for worry; we are focused,” she added. “We haven’t turned our attention to health care just because it’s an election year.”
Mercy employs 7,400 people and has net revenues of $900 million, she emphasized.
Koles, a Toledo native and industry expert, was the keynote speaker. His talk focused on health care changes in the coming years, especially with tightened budgets.
“For Mercy, the implications are very straightforward: lower-rate growth,” he said. The country also faces its largest generation, the baby boomers, coming into their Medicare years, he stressed.
“Medicare was designed for a completely different country,” he said. “People talk about a world of Medicare — that is becoming a reality faster than you would think.”
Koles pulled up a slide of several celebrities whose age makes them eligible for Medicare. “Take a minute to relish that you are paying for Donald Trump’s health care,” Koles said.
Many also face having to cover health care with private insurance and are struggling to cover costs. Koles said 95 percent of physicians reported patients recently forgoing treatments. He pointed out that the future of health care depends largely on who wins the presidential election, pointing to a slide of President Barack Obama, former Gov. Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry’s health care philosophies. Koles joked he didn’t have time to update the slide with the changing GOP landscape.
Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will impact the future of health care, Koles said.
“If you and I had been sitting in a room a year ago, we would only be talking about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Koles said.
Koles also asked “the biggest existential question of all: What will happen to the benefits market?” He said more companies may move toward giving employees stipends, which may not keep up with medical inflation, instead of picking benefits up.
Still, Koles said there is no reason for panic. “Nothing I have shown you is sudden; nothing I have shown you is a catastrophe. It is a slow squeeze that frankly has to happen.”
Mayor Mike Bell, who was in the audience, deemed the presentation “excellent” and praised Mercy.
“[Mercy] is extremely vital in our future in being able to contain these costs in the large population they deal with,” he said.