Reflections on 2012

The end of the year is often cause for reflection and a look to the future.  For those of us committed to working toward a health care system that is focused on improving health, improving care and lowering costs, there was much forward momentum in 2012. A historic Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), while health care — in the form of the future of the ACA, Medicare reform and the threat of the growing national debt — played a central role in our national debate. And, as the year draws to a close, policymakers in Washington continue to search for common ground on what promises to be a significant effort to close the gap in our nation’s finances while continuing to invest in our citizens.

At ACHP, we have been working to ensure that the views and experiences of our member plans and systems are reflected in these debates and in the early implementation of the health care law. 2013 promises to be even busier and, in some ways more momentous, as we prepare to welcome 30 million or more of our fellow citizens into the health insurance market and continue our work to reform health care delivery.

To this end, ACHP met frequently with legislators in both parties in the House and Senate throughout the year, solidifying existing relationships and building new ones. We also provided on-going input on ACA implementation to Obama administration officials and will continue that dialogue as the administration finalizes regulations.

In addition, we worked with our plans to prepare for health insurance exchanges and provided guidance and analysis on clinical quality assessments that helped our plans boost their performance.

To highlight the innovative community-based approaches of ACHP members, we released two publications in 2012, “Transitions of Care from Hospital to Home” and “Ensuring Safe and Appropriate Prescription Painkiller Use,” both of which were well received by the D.C. policy community and our plans’ local markets. ACHP announced the latter at a successful, standing-room-only press conference at which we detailed our plans’ approaches and proposed policy directions for one of our nation’s most pressing public health issues.

As we look ahead to 2013, I know that our efforts in 2012 have laid a firm foundation for the critical work ahead. The debate over reducing the debt has just begun. The hard work of figuring out the right balance of spending cuts and revenue increases will be followed by months of consideration of policy changes to make those numbers work. With a budget of more than half a trillion dollars, Medicare is certain to play a central role. Lawmakers will need to find ways to shore up the existing program while ensuring a thriving program for the future. At the same time, the federal government will be moving forward on ACA implementation with crucial decisions about how to shape insurance markets in two-thirds of the states. And this is all with an eye on October 1, the day on which millions of Americans who have lived without insurance for months or even years will have the opportunity they—and we—have been waiting for. It’s up to all of us to make sure we are ready for the challenges ahead.

Patricia Smith
President and CEO, ACHP

Photo courtesy of Active Healthcare, Inc.