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Houston health care leaders mum on ACA effects

February 5, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s understandable that leaders in the Houston health care sector don’t want to come off as partisan when it comes to the politics of health care reform. However, some of the duties that come with the job are making tough decisions and sorting through the good, the bad and the ugly.

  Houston Business Journal by Bayan Raji, Reporter

That’s why I was surprised when the spokeswoman for a hospital in the Texas Medical Center canceled my interview with the hospital’s president after I brought up health care reform. I was informed via email the president does not speak on health care reform and will not take or answer any questions on the subject.

I can’t guarantee that’s the reason the interview was canceled, but it seems to be a familiar refrain, considering I ran into some resistance as the election approached and Houston Business Journal intensified its coverage of the Affordable Care Act.

Another public relations specialists of a TMC hospital informed me via email the system’s president wanted to wait several months before making any comments on the future of health care. The president wanted the fate of Medicaid expansion in Texas to be more clear, which is expected to happen after the start of the Texas Legislative session in January.

Only three of the eight hospital presidents I contacted in Houston would comment on the impact the presidential election would have on health care reform and what that would mean for their hospitals. Many leaders seem hesitant to broach the subject, but others have not been afraid to put the ACA into perspective.

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center President Dr. Ronald DePinho was one of the few leaders in the Texas Medical Center who agreed to speak on the record with me about the election results.

“The Affordable Care Act on a macro level will have significant impact on hospitals in general. M.D. Anderson is in strong position because it has a singular focus, critical mass and is doing many things to enhance its revenue stream,” DePinho said.

For something that will have such an impact on hospitals in Houston, their leaders are incredibly tight lipped about it all.

However, in addition to DePinho, Texas Children’s Hospital President and CEO Mark Wallace has been extremely forthright in his opinion about the need for Medicaid in Texas.

When I met with Wallace earlier this month, he looked into my eyes and told me the health care industry has not done a good job talking to legislators, to Congress and to the public about the importance of Medicaid.

Maybe now is a good time to start?

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