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Affordable Care Act panel examines contentious issue

Sunday, July 01, 2012 5:05 PM | Deleted user
Affordable Care Act panel examines contentious issue

By Martin Desmarais
The Indian Medical Association of New England and the Greater Boston chapter of the South Asian Bar Association joined together to put on a successful panel discussion on July 18 at Tufts University about recent health care legislation and its impact. The panel, "Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court: The Future of Healthcare Reform," featured area experts and included a lively Q&A session. Over 100 people attended the event.

The discussion examined how the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act will dramatically impact health care, law and politics for years to come. Panelists, which included representative from both health care and law, discussed the far-reaching consequences of the decision both locally and nationally.

Dr. Sucheta Doshi, president of IMANE, said the goal of the event was to provide an opportunity for people to learn how the Indian legal and medical community is working together to promote awareness on a topic that impacts everyone.

This was the first time that IMANE and SABA worked together to provide an educational panel for members and the community at large. "We had this idea that both of our organizations should do some collaborative work together. • We realized there are so many ways in which our organizations can collaborate," said Manisha Bhatt, president of the Greater Boston chapter of SABA.

While the crowd at the panel was heavy on health-care professionals, Doshi and Bhatt agreed that both health-care professionals and legal professionals gained from the discussion.

"The one nice thing about this panel is we had two excellent attorneys • to explain the legal ramifications of this act," said Doshi. "This law impacts how we practices • as a physicians that was one of the big things that I took away from it undefined how this act works from a legal standpoint.

"I also took away from it what this act means for the future and how does it impact how we practice in the future," she added.

"For me it was really interesting to learn about the issues that medical practitioners deal with on a daily basis," said Bhatt. "And it was really interesting how a lot of the focus was on the access to health care and how the act was going impact that."

In covering some of the basic tenets of the Affordable Care Act, Doshi said it was very helpful to hear about aspects such as the elimination of annual and lifetime health-care coverage limits, the extension of children on parent's health care until the age of 26 and primary care physician boosts for Medicare payments. She felt it was very useful to move beyond the main headline that is dominant in the media about the whether the act is constitutional. "There hasn't been an explanation of everything else in the act," said Doshi.

Bhatt said she was surprise to hear about the cost saving aspects of the act and equally surprised that this does not get as much attention. "It appears that there is an effort to reduce the costs," she added. "I don't think there is a lot of focus in the media on what this will cost individuals."

Doshi said that the success of the panel clearly suggests that IMANE and SABA have more to gain from future collaboration. "We actually ran out of time. There were more questions than we had time to answer," she said. "It was a very interesting political dynamic between the two panelists on the health-care side and then the two attorneys."

"This was a way for us as lawyers to really be able to bridge the gap explaining what the act means and also have a discussion about how it impacts real people," said Bhatt. "In order for lawyers to truly be effective advocates, regardless of who you advocate for, you really need to take a step in their shoes. • I do my best work when I truly understand what my clients needs are."

"It really did bring together people from the medical side and the legal side, as well as the legal policy side," added Doshi. "This was a really good way to bring all the sides together."

Panelists include:

Jay Bhatt, DO, MPH, MPA: a senior fellow at NEHI, a Commonwealth Fund Minority Health Policy Fellow (Harvard Medical School/Harvard Kennedy School), as well as chair-elect of the American College of Physicians Council of Associates. Bhatt is a former president of American Medical Student Association and Zuckerman Fellow at the Kennedy School. He is interested in innovation in community health delivery and will provide the clinician's perspective on federal policy changes on the panel.  

Renee Landers, Esq.: a professor of Health Law and Administrative Law at Suffolk University Law School. Most recently, Landers co-authored an article on the Affordable Care Act in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled: "Perspective, Supreme Court Review of the Health Care Reform Law." Landers has spoken in various media outlets with respect to the Affordable Care Act, most notably CNN and NECN. Landers is the first woman attorney of color to serve as president of the Boston Bar Association.

Amy Lischko, PhD: an associate professor of public health at Tufts University School of Medicine and fellow at the Pioneer Institute. Lischko is a former commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy and former director of Health Policy under Governor Mitt Romney. He has published numerous journal articles on Massachusetts health-care reform and health policy more broadly. 

Regina Rockefeller, Esq.: a partner at Nixon Peabody's Health Services Group. Rockefeller has been selected as a "Hero of the Field," a health care attorney whose clients consistently sing her praises, by the Massachusetts Medical Law Report's 4th Annual Rx for Excellence Awards. She has published numerous health law articles on topics of importance to health-care providers. She served as the only lawyer on the Massachusetts Medical Society Task Force on Hospital Conversions and Mergers. Rockefeller represents and advises hospitals, physicians, group medical practices, accountable care organizations, captive insurers, faculty medical practice plans, continuing care retirement communities and other health care providers. She also advises health-care providers on cost-effective compliance with HIPAA, HITECH and state data breach laws and defends health-care professionals before state licensing boards.

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