BUFFALO, N.Y. (June 28, 2012) – Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health, responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) today at a joint press conference with Catholic Health Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer James Dunlop at Sisters Hospital.
Today’s ruling upheld the constitutionality of the law, with the individual mandate provision surviving as a tax, rather than as a power under the interstate commerce clause.
“At Independent Health, we have been committed to implementation of the law and we are pleased efforts to expand coverage to more individuals and families will move forward,” said Dr. Cropp. “We’re also pleased substantial improvements in the ACA for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and the preliminary steps taken to expand the risk pool and reform the delivery system will continue.”
Acknowledging the ACA serves as a good first step toward securing health coverage for all Americans, and that several ACA provisions already in effect have had a positive impact, Dr. Cropp emphasized the importance of local efforts to improve quality and affordability.
“The ACA was originally introduced to provide millions of Americans with access to quality health care. With the court’s decision, the federal government has set the direction toward reform and it is up to the states and communities to move this forward in addressing the cost factors,” said Dr. Cropp. “We have always believed – and still believe – that health care reform legislation alone will not solve all the challenges facing our health care system. While a federal law provides a framework for reform, the most sustainable solutions will continue to come at the local level.”
Here in Western New York, Dr. Cropp said health plans, hospitals and other stakeholders in the health care system are actively working toward those solutions.
“To continue transforming Western New York into a high-value, high-performing health care community, we must continue to engage in collaborative initiatives that achieve better health, better care and lower costs,” he said. “Reversing the high cost of health care cannot be done by one entity alone. It is a collective responsibility."
“We must continue to work with community health providers, including Catholic Health and Catholic Medical Partners, and other key stakeholders to create a culture of health in Western New York. In doing so, we will improve the physical health of our region, while also strengthening our region’s fiscal fitness.”
Dr. Cropp explained efforts to increase access to coverage, improve quality of care and reduce the medical cost trend must focus on five key actions: promoting prevention and wellness; revitalizing and growing primary care; implementing payment reform; achieving greater realignment of the health system; and enhancing health information.
Dr. Cropp said efforts toward the five key actions have translated to positive, measurable results locally.
In March, The Commonwealth Fund Commission issued the first-ever scorecard on local health system performance, which examined several key indicators in more than 300 regions across the U.S. The scorecard ranks the Buffalo region 54th nationwide, in the top 10 percent for access and affordability, and in the top quartile for prevention and treatment, and overall performance.
“Our region’s ranking is especially impressive, given Buffalo’s status as the third-poorest city in the U.S. and the usual association between lower-income areas and lack of access to quality care, relative to high-income communities,” said Dr. Cropp. “The Commonwealth report highlights the interconnectedness of improved access, better care and lower costs, and underscores the need for collaboration.”
Buffalo is also one of a select few communities identified for further study by The Commonwealth Fund to determine benchmark measures for success in overall health system performance.
Dr. Cropp underlined the importance of continued collaboration among all stakeholders to achieve local reform and secure a sustainable future for the region’s health care system.
“By taking action to reshape the health care of our community, we can continue to move Western New York forward on a path toward greater financial and health care security,” he said. “At Independent Health, we remain committed to working with our many partners in the spirit of cooperation to establish Western New York as a high-value, high-performing health care community that will serves as a model for other regions to follow.”
Headquartered in Buffalo, Independent Health began operations in 1980 and has consistently been rated among the top health plans in the country for customer service and member satisfaction. Independent Health’s comprehensive portfolio of product and service offerings include HMO, POS, PPO and EPO products, Medicare and Medicaid plans, traditional indemnity insurance, consumer-directed plans, coverage for self-funded employers, plus health savings account (HSA) and pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services. Combined, the company provides health benefits and services to nearly 375,000 individuals in Western New York and throughout the country. For more information, visit Independent Health’s website at www.independenthealth.com.