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Survey Finds Leading Health Care Executives Optimistic About Health Care Reform

Views differ sharply from those of general public, politicians, and commentators (December 17)

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the nation’s leading health care executives say they believe the health care system will be somewhat or significantly better by 2020 than it is today as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In addition, 93% believe that the quality of care provided by their own hospital or health system will improve during that period.

The results of the survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, show a strong divergence from the opinions of many politicians and commentators, as well as from that of the general public.

“Pessimism seemingly pervades the national dialogue surrounding health care reform,” the authors write, citing that many elected officials and commentators have assailed the new health care law as destined to fail. Moreover, nearly three-quarters of the general public expect the quality of health care to decline or to stay the same, while only 11% expect it to improve.

The authors surveyed 74 senior executives at large hospitals and health systems across the U.S.

On cost control, 91% of the study’s respondents forecasted improvements within their own hospital or health system by 2020. In addition, 85% expected their organization to have reduced its per-patient operating costs by the end of the decade.

Overall, the expected average reduction in operating costs was 11.7%. These savings could be achieved by such strategies as reducing the number of hospitalizations (54%), reducing the number of readmissions (49%), and reducing the number of emergency room visits (39%), the respondents said.

Among those who were pessimistic about the PPACA’s effects, administrative complexity was cited as the greatest barrier to reducing their organizations’ operating costs. Respondents also expressed fears about misaligned reimbursement policies, such as the absence of incentives for improving patients’ long-term quality of life.

Source: Penn Medicine; December 17, 2013.

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