Seminar Looks At Health Care Law Impact

By Aisling Maki

As the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision on the Affordable Care Act, local experts weighed in at The Daily News Health Care Reform Seminar, held Thursday, April 5, at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

The conversation covered a wide range of topics, including rising health care costs, public exchanges, increased Medicare enrollment, and whether the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance coverage will be struck down by the Supreme Court.

The seminar’s keynote speaker was Greg Anderson, a certified public accountant and partner in the health care practice group at Horne LLP, who’s preparing to publish a book on health care reform.

Anderson concentrates his practice in consulting on income distribution plans for physician group practices. He also conducts design, implementation and fair market value studies related to hospital and physician employment, and analyzes the valuation of health care facilities.

He spoke in some detail about the similarities between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s and President Barack Obama’s plans, both of which include the controversial individual mandate.

“The health care reform statute that his would-be opponent in this year’s campaign signed into law, Mr. Romney said is not the right model for every state,” Anderson said. “In fact, he’s calling it an unfolding disaster. We have to see how this is going to work out in the long run.”

The panel discussed the new rules and regulations taking effect under the Affordable Care Act, the impact of current legislation and what additional changes are expected between now and 2014, a pivotal year for the implementation of health care reform provisions because that’s when the individual mandate and employer penalties are scheduled for implementation.

Anderson was joined on the panel by Phillip Johnson, partner with Argyle Benefits Consultants LLC, Angela Youngberg with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC, and Dr. Michael Lachina, chief medical officer at Saint Francis Healthcare in Memphis.

“If you’re a small employer with fewer than 50 employees, typically you’re not going to face changes,” said Johnson, a chartered life underwriter and certified employee benefits specialist with a solid understanding of federal health care reform, including how the legislation will impact both individuals and large and small businesses. “You will have options that relate to the health care that you provide your employees.”

Youngberg leads her firm’s Health Law Practice Group, practicing primarily in the areas of health law, corporate law, and mergers and acquisitions. She advises clients in connection with setting up new medical practices and other health care entities, joint ventures, Accountable Care Organizations and clinical integration.

“The severability of the act is really important because there are so many portions of the act that have nothing to do with the individual mandate,” she said, referring to the Supreme Court’s pending ruling. “Like many acts that Congress puts into place, they just put a compilation of a whole bunch of different things that are maybe related or unrelated into one Affordable Care Act. If they strike the whole act, what I think will happen is that Congress will go back and re-enact the provisions that were never controversial to begin with.”

As a physician who employs and manages other physicians, Lachina brings to the discussion how health care reform is impacting the patient and the marketplace.

“There are components that I think will improve health care, the delivery of health care and the quality,” Lachina said. “All of those things are imbedded in the act. But I think the way we’re going to pay for health care is what has received so much attention. That’s really the unsolved piece of this – can we really afford it and can this really work? We all know that costs seem to be much higher than originally projected.”

Horne LLP and Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell PLC sponsored the event.

The next Daily News seminar, Money & Markets, will take place at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art on June 7, followed by Sustainable Energy on Aug. 2, Business of Health Care on Sept. 20, and Commercial Real Estate on Nov. 1.