State's health care changes called effective


State's health care changes called effective

Paul Milton, chief executive of Ellis Medicine, says the city and neighboring communities have benefited from medical services that would not have been possible a decade ago, when three of the facilities he oversees were independent and struggling to stay afloat.

Had Ellis, St. Clare’s and Bellevue Woman’s hospitals not consolidated under a legislative mandate driven by a state panel known as the Berger Commission, Milton said there would not have been funds for Ellis Medicine’s $20 million Clifton Park medical campus, $70 million emergency department, or the $19.4 million Center for Surgical & Interventional Medicine, still in progress.

[…] it’s tough to measure the effects of the Berger Commission — so called after its chairman, Stephen Berger, but more formally the New York State Commission on Healthcare Facilities for the 21st Century.

The hospital closures and mergers it mandated were aimed at reducing the cost of medical care by eliminating waste in the form of excess hospital beds and duplicated services.

Market forces, including the continuing rise in prescription drug and other medical costs, the Affordable Care Act’s impact on insurance coverage and further government reforms that require radical changes in the way doctors and hospitals provide care and get paid, have also changed the health care landscape.

Yet industry observers say the commission’s tough-to-swallow prescriptions, including nine hospital closures and 48 other reconfigurations statewide, were the right remedy at the time for what the advisory panel termed “a system in crisis.”

[…] hospitals in direct competition with one another spend vast sums to duplicate services and equipment, like pricey MRI machines or cardiac catheterization labs that are available across town.

[…] St. Peter’s Health Partners several years later followed a similar model for its voluntary merger of facilities in three Capital Region counties and its recent reconfiguration of hospitals in Troy.

James K. Reed, St. Peter’s CEO and a member of the Berger Commission’s Capital Region advisory committee, said both St. Peter’s officials and the Berger Commission were responding to changes in the industry, including less need for acute care beds and a higher demand for outpatient procedures.

By reducing duplication, particularly in administrative costs, the three hospitals saw a $16 million swing in the right direction in a two-year period — from a combined operating loss of about $8 million in 2006 to an operating surplus of the same amount after coming together in 2008.

Though hospital closings were the focus of public response to the Berger report, the commission’s sweeping policy recommendations also included a comprehensive review of medical payments, a push to insure more New Yorkers and development of “hybrid” facilities between hospitals and primary care centers.

Today, payments are being addressed in state reforms that seek to base fees on quality rather than number of procedures, millions more New Yorkers have insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and Capital Region residents are accustomed to “new” venues for medical treatment, including urgent care centers and medical campuses like Ellis’ Clifton Park facility, with everything but an emergency room.
Source: Times Unition
State's health care changes called effective

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