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How are members of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association coping with the unpredictability in their sector?

LEADING THE CHARGE: Greg Vigdor is president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, a statewide association for those organizations and leaders devoted to collectively building better healthcare and health for the patients, people and communities of Arizona. PHOTO BY MIKE MERTES, AZ BIG MEDIA

By JESSE A. MILLARD When the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act earlier this year, the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) came out against the bill, joining the likes of the American Medical Association and AARP.   With the debate raging on, only one thing is certain now as all eyes focus on Capitol Hill with anticipation: uncertainty.  Recently, we sat down with AzHHA President and CEO Greg Vigdor to talk about what hospitals are focused on during this roller-coaster period in our nation’s healthcare history.   A chief concern revolves around what might happen to Medicaid, which tends to lead how the market develops healthcare plans in Arizona, Vigdor explains. But Vigdor and local hospitals have their eyes on other worries, too.    Az Business: What’s the most important thing Arizona hospitals should keep an eye on in the next year?  Greg Vigdor: There’s the question. What’s going on with the insurers here in Arizona and how much money are they making? I think our perception is actually a lot. And hospitals are kind of not making great margins, so what does that mean about the business transactions with insurers? Hospitals are looking at drug costs, too. We thought prescription drug costs would be addressed at some point, but it isn’t being addressed. So we’re watching that closely.   22

AB | July - August 2017

AB: How are your members proceeding with this uncertainty surrounding insurance and everything else? GV: There’s a lot more apprehension than in the past. The core thing is, I think there are people out there saying, “dealing with uncertainty is what we do. I feel a little more nervous, maybe a lot more nervous than in the past.” The American Health Care Act change could be bigger than all of the previous changes. Will we be able to actually deal with it? We’re not as sure as we have been with past changes.  AB: How will hospitals react if the Affordable Care Act is pulled and all of these folks become uninsured?  GV: It’s all just too hypothetical. What we do know is, if the AHCA proposal that passed the House just goes into effect, I think it will be a disaster for Arizona. The number of people that lose coverage and the problems that will be created are causing some serious uncertainty. The scale of what the AHCA would do, I think, is monumental. It really questions a lot of the assumptions about how our system has developed here, including the role of health plans. I’m not sure they would be interested in the Medicaid business any longer if there is no money in it. Yet, the hospitals in particular would be left to care for those patients — whether they had Medicaid or not — through the emergency rooms.

AzBusiness magazine July/August 2017  

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