More than 500 business leaders attended the first Hoag Hospital Forum on Healthcare yesterday morning at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine. Dr. Richard Afable, president and CEO of Hoag Hospital, and Andrew Policano, dean of the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine, spoke about navigating through recent healthcare reform. Michael Mussallem, chairman and CEO of the Irvine-based Edwards Lifesciences Corporation, facilitated the conversation between the two business leaders.
“It’s interesting when you put an economist together with someone who is actually trying to deliver healthcare,” said Mussallem. “The economist can point out that we have an unsustainable rate of growth in healthcare costs. … And the guy who actually has the job of providing the healthcare is willing to talk about the reality of not dictating this at the level of federal government.”
The sold-out forum sought to address how both medical professionals and local employers can handle the rising cost of healthcare and the recent Affordable Care Act. Policano said the industry has a difficult road ahead.
“There are some things in this plan that are going to make it very, very difficult to actually have the [healthcare] services available for so many people,” said Policano. “I think we need to see some fairly significant changes in how we provide healthcare and in the competitive nature of the markets.”
Afable said recent healthcare reform has brought to light how important the economy is to the medical field. Afable said some of the answers to today’s problems can be found in Orange County.
"We all recognize the challenges that exist in healthcare as an industry today, which are mostly because of the economics of our country," said Afable. "The statement that was made [yesterday] was 'it is the economy, stupid!' The reality is that many of the things we have done for decades … are just not going to work in the future."
The CEO went on to explain that the country has attempted to apply a regulatory governmental program to solve the problem. However, Afable believes this solution is insufficient, both nationally and locally.
“We are going to be left looking for answers, and I think many of those answers are right here in Orange County," he said. "We … can and should be in a leading position as we come out of the back end of what will be a less than completely successful governmental-driven means by which to fix a healthcare industry problem.”
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