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Health care Q&A: Greg Pemberton

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Executive Q & A

Greg Pemberton, a health care attorney at the local law firm Ice Miller LLP specializing in sales and mergers among health care providers, discussed the biggest changes he expects to come out of the federal health reform bills. On Thursday at the downtown Westin hotel, Pemberton and his Ice Miller colleagues will describe how “it’s not going to be business as usual” to about 100 local business leaders at a conference co-sponsored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

IBJ: Assuming something close to the Senate-House health reform bills pass, what will be the biggest change in the law for health care providers?

A: The disruption of so many changes all at once. There are so many changes being mandated in this legislation, it really will by necessity have an impact on the way care is delivered. Probably the single biggest thing the provider community is going to have to do is get ahead of these demonstration projects [such as Medicare paying multiple providers all at once for one episode of care, or refusing to pay for patients readmitted to a hospital shortly after a stay there]. Some of these this time are definitely going to have to be taken seriously because they represent the cutting edge of what the system is moving to next.
 
IBJ: Even after passage, how much of the real impact of these bills would remain “to be determined” by the administrative rule-writing process?

A: There are some areas where rule making is going to be needed to flesh out the details of federal regulation. But in some respects, there is going to be a much larger effect. That will be from benefit design and assistance changes [by private employers]. That’s a very, very volatile market right now. You’ve got to look at what your business model has been, because it’s going to change. It isn’t going to be business as usual.
 
IBJ: Five years after these bills take effect [in either 2013 or 2014] what's the biggest change you expect to see in the Indiana/Indianapolis health care landscape?

A: The safest thing to predict is a consolidation on the provider side, from a business perspective and an operation perspective. With emphasis on hospitals, doctors, home health, long-term care, the entire continuum. During [the] next few years, in the phase-in [of the bills], that’s exactly what providers will do.

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