By Cozetta Jones
A.S.E.A. Communications Director
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Chancellor, Dr. Dan Rahn, addressed the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce today by first acknowledging that our current healthcare system is on an “unsustaining track.”
Rahn provided the group with a snap shot of the current healthcare situation in the U.S. and our state. He pointed out that currently the country spends approximately $2.6 trillion on healthcare. He stated that, according the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, 25 percent of working-aged Arkansans are uninsured and that at last year UAMS had more than $200 million in uncompensated care or charges. “These charges represent individuals who can’t afford to pay and individuals who have the capability but haven’t paid their medical bills,” he said.
In light of Medicaid Expansion in Arkansas, fraud was a major issue among the group who stressed the need for a possible co-pay requirement for Medicaid recipients and more screenings of applicants. “I have a problem with someone coming to the ER that doesn’t have insurance but has a Coach purse”, said one of the members. Another option given by the group was random drug testing. Rahn said, “If we do it for Medicaid we must do it for all government assistance programs.” He continued by acknowledging that socioeconomic factors must be addressed such as education and access to resources.
Rahn, who oversees an institution with a $3.92 billion impact on the state, said that our current system design is to blame for most of the insufficiencies. He cited a recent study released by the Institute of Medicine, titled Best Care at a Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America, which gave the following 10 recommendations that could lead to a better health system:
- Improved the digital infrastructure
- Improve data utility
- More clinical decision support
- Encourage patient-centered care
- Utilize community links
- Care continuity
- Optimized operations
- Financial incentives
- Performance transparency
- Broad leadership
In Arkansas the goal is to achieve the “triple aim” that means to improve the patient experience, improve the health of populations and lower healthcare cost. He also mentioned Arkansas’s four-pronged approach to health care improvement in the state that includes the health information exchange, the health insurance exchange, payment reform and increased workforce.
In order for Medicaid to work Rahn said, “We all have to be under the umbrella.” This includes healthcare providers, insurance providers, higher education, k-12 education, legislators, consumers—and their families.