Moving forward … ish Health care reform takes the stage at Medical Update Luncheon

Jun 20th, 2013

On Thursday, June 20, more than 200 leaders from the business community gath­ered at the Las Cruces Convention Center for the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce’s annual Medical Update Luncheon.

Paul Herzog, CEO of Memorial Medical Center, and Denten Park, CEO of MountainView Regional Medical Center, shared the stage.

Herzog called the changes currently tak­ing place in the health care field “transfor­mational.” He used electronic medical re­cords as an example.

“While it sounds like a good idea and sounds like a simple idea, it requires a tre­mendous amount of work,” he said.

Herzog said Memorial Medical Center certified last year for “Meaningful Use” (MU) Stage 1, the first phase of the fed­eral government’s meaningful use incentive program, which requires the use of elec­tronic health record systems by hospitals and health care professionals. The hospital is currently in the process of certifying for MU Stage 2.

He highlighted other accomplishments from the past year: the addition of 26 new positions, including 12 mid-levels (nurse practitioners and physician assistants); start­ing 100 patients on clinical cancer trials, and retaining 75 percent of graduates each year
during the past three years in the hospital’s Family Medicine Residency Program. This year, the hospital received more than 1,000 applications for six internship spots.

“Our residency program has started to receive significant recognition,” Herzog said.

MountainView Regional Medical Center is moving in a similar direction.

“With health care reform, we’re mov­ing forward … ish,” Park said with a laugh. “They’re not producing enough doctors any­more to take care of our health care needs, so we’re trying to modify the system and reinvent health care every single day. We’ll do the right thing for our patient base to continue to provide exceptional care.

“Every day, we are required to do more, but are reimbursed less,” said Park, as he highlighted the hospital’s accomplishments.

He said in the past year, he successfully recruited a reconstructive plastic surgeon and introduced bariatric surgery to the hos­pital’s range of services. Park praised Dr. Frank Felts, MountainView’s board certified general surgeon who has performed more than 3,500 bariatric procedures.

“We’re excited to introduce this service to the community … to improve our citi­zens’ quality of life and help maintain their best health,” he said.

Park said there exists a friendly competi­tion between Memorial Medical Center and
MountainView Regional Medical Center, “but it’s a friendly competition where we work to ensure quality. Las Cruces is, and will continue to be, very well served.”

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called “Obamacare” or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was also on the luncheon’s agenda.

Herzog discussed the Health Insurance Exchange, a set of government-regulated and standardized health care plans from which individuals may purchase health in­surance from private health care providers. This particularly impacts Doña Ana County, where 26 percent of the population younger than 65 years of age does not have health insurance, he said.

In January, following provisions of fed­eral health care law, Gov. Susana Martinez announced plans to expand Medicaid in or­der to potentially provide medical services to an additional 170,000 low-income adults in the state.

Jose “Abe” Howard-Gonzalez, an asso­ciate from Kemp Smith Attorneys-at-Law, discussed the Affordable Care Act from an employer’s perspective.

“There’s over 1,000 pages of law,” Howard-Gonzalez said, “but the regulations are the meat.”

requirements, including:

• The W-2 reporting requirement, mandating that employers report the cost of employer-sponsored health
benefits.

• Anon-discriminationrequirement.
“The most important regulation, in my opinion, is the nondiscrimination requirement,” Howard-Gonzalez said.

Health care reform applies nondiscrimination to all group health plans. In addition, starting in 2014, essential health benefits such as pregnancy and newborn care, along with vision and dental care for children, will be covered in all new individual, small business and exchange plans.

The exchanges also impact business owners. Employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are re­quired
to provide a notice to employees about the state’s health insurance exchanges.

Howard-Gonzalez set the stage for the Chamber’s Affordable Care Act Briefing from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at Ramada Palms de Las Cruces, 201 E. University Ave. Howard-Gonzalez will return to speak more in-depth, and Dr. Martin Hickey, CEO of New Mexico Health Connections, will serve as keynote speaker.

To RSVP, call the Chamber at 524-1968.