Health care decision important

Published 9:04 am Saturday, July 7, 2012

by Phil Wright

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will make health care accessible for millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance today.

That’s positive news for people who will now have the ability to visit doctors, utilize hospital services, and obtain preventive health care — something many of us take for granted. As a health care provider, we look forward to providing essential health services for more members of our community through this expansion of coverage.

We’re also pleased that expanded coverage will reduce the burden of uncompensated care on our hospital and others across the nation. As most hospitals, Southampton Memorial Hospital provides medically necessary emergency care for anyone who needs it, regardless of whether the patient has insurance or the ability to pay for services. Expanded coverage will help to ensure that hospitals are reimbursed for the essential services they provide, making our nation’s health care system stronger for the benefit of everyone.

Hospitals that have shouldered the burden of uncompensated care can now expect more reimbursement for the services they provide. The challenge, however, will be preparing a course of action that will equip providers across the nation with the tools and resources to effectively care for this new influx of patients – many of whom will enter the system with complex health conditions that have gone untreated due to a lack of coverage.

While the decision helps to bring a sense of clarity for the future of our industry and hope for millions of Americans, it is hardly the end of this process. I’m sure the highly debated topic of health care will be a continual theme on the campaign trail from now until November. And, regardless of who resides in the White House, health care will most certainly remain a focus for our elected representatives.

Ultimately, we must be able to “change the game” or “think outside of the box” as we try to adapt to these changes.

Providers must be rewarded for the promotion of efficient and cost effective care. Consumers must be incentivized to utilize and engage in their health care services appropriately. Health care providers, insurers, our patients and our government must work together to determine what is in the best interest of our citizens as we sort through the complicated legal and societal policy issues the ruling has on our health care delivery system. But what must be a constant is our desire to give excellent care — which should be our fundamental objective.

We will focus on providing patients with quality care and the best possible experience. We will strive for excellence at every level as we work to achieve our operational goals, including controlling our costs. We will continue making the investments necessary to innovate, lead our industry, and serve the local communities that depend on us.

I believe this decision brings new hope for millions of people. As they enter the health care system, we can look forward to caring for more local residents and reaffirming our commitment to be an important health partner for our community.

Phil A. Wright II is chief executive officer of Southampton Memorial Hospital in Franklin.  He can be reached at