Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

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June 18, 2014

Simmons, Welsh: ACA problematic but fixable

GREENSBURG — All hope is not lost for fixing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (colloquially known as ‘ObamaCare’). Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) CEO Linda Simmons offered that optimistic assessment following Monday’s monthly meeting of the Greensburg Rotary Club, which focused on the ACA’s ongoing impact on doctors, patients and US healthcare in general.

Simmons, who currently serves as Rotarian president, was joined by Batesville Surgeon Dr. Dave Welsh, M.D., on a two-person ACA panel at Monday’s meeting. The two healthcare professionals presented an overview of the ACA’s strengths and weaknesses and took a handful of questions from the Rotarian audience afterward.

The two seemed mostly in agreement regarding a number of critical aspects of the ACA, one of those being that the law wasn’t (and still isn’t) quite ready for widespread adoption when the majority of its provisions took effect early this year. They also agreed that, while the law’s implementation remains problematic and confusing, it has also brought about a number of positive changes in US and, more specifically, Indiana healthcare.

Among those positives, Welsh said, is the fact that young adults can now remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26. The ACA also prohibits anyone applying for health insurance from being rejected for pre-existing conditions; that fact, Simmons and Welsh agreed, is a VERY positive outcome.

Another significant positive development wrought by the ACA is its intensive focus on prevention. Simmons has been in healthcare some 40 years and said that, although the idea of a healthcare system based on disease prevention and mitigation has long been contemplated, the ACA marks the first time such a system has been created and put in place.

Until the ACA, Simmons said, American healthcare had generally operated on a principal of the more services provided to the patient, the more scans and procedures ordered, the better. Each office visit, scan, procedure and test, Simmons explained, was seen as increasing payment received to the healthcare provider and thus increasing the bottom line. The ACA, she said, has begun to change that mentality.

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