Hospitals prepare for health care reform law

5:10 PM, Jun 29, 2012   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Supreme court may have only ruled the Health-care reform law constitutional yesterday, but the state's largest system has been laying the ground work for the law for months.

Maine Health, the parent company for Maine Medical Center and six other hospitals says it has begun implementing a number of changes under the Affordable Care Act.

The company which oversees one-thousand physicians are in the process of switching to an electronic medical record system to the tune of $150 million. But officials believe provisions in the law which help cut health care costs in the long run.

Katie Fullam Harris is the Vice President of Government and Employer Relations at Maine Health. She says the new electronic medical record system will help set up patient centered medical homes that will be linked together throughout the hospital system. Patients will have teams of providers to provide better access to primary and preventative care. She says preventative care will help keep patients from showing up in the emergency room, which can drive up costs. Another key provision in the law cuts to Medicare reimbursements to Maine hospitals will amount to 900 million dollars over the next decade.

'Those cuts will be counter balanced if we see an increase in people who have insurance as opposed to people who are currently uninsured so it will be really important for Maine to fully adopt the Medicaid expansion, said Fullam Harris.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation about 10 percent of Maine's population, or 126,000 people, is uninsured. The majority could qualify for Medicaid under the law's expansion of the program, but state officials have not said whether Maine will choose to expand its Medicaid program or opt out.


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