A Millennial’s Take on the Nashville Healthcare Council’s Panel Discussion: Wall Street’s View on Healthcare


About two weeks ago I attended a very informative panel discussion hosted by the Nashville Healthcare Council, titled Wall Street’s View on Health Care. My interest in this discussion stemmed not only from my active interest in a career in health care, but from my concerns as a millennial observing one of the most disruptive financial/medical crises in history.

The event began with a 30 minute networking opportunity (where I met several charming individuals from across the health care professional spectrum, and exchanged business cards with most), followed by a surprisingly delicious lunch and the discussion. The panel consisted of several leading experts in the fields of finance and health care, whose opinions on the financial security of the industry were fairly consistent. In short, Rehab and Dialysis are booming, while Hospice and Home Care are faltering. Anything relying heavily on medicare/medicaid will suffer, because the government’s money is very tight. As the major savings from Obama’s spending cuts came from health care, naturally quality decreased. This is the danger of blanket policies: it is impossible for them to raise the standard. Imposing standardization on anything naturally reduces quality. Look at former President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind”, which many consider a colossal failure and more states are requesting exemption from annually.

The panel also discussed why last year was so damaging for the industry as a whole. The effects of the Affordable Care Act and multiple reform efforts were underestimated by stockholders, and thus very optimistic decisions were made on which returns weren’t realized. The impact of the super committees was unexpected, with regulatory cuts gouging deeper than anticipated. The outlook, however, is positive. Cautious optimism is encouraged, and as the panel said “Think not of 2012, but of 2013. Slow but steady growth and confidence will weather the turmoil.” What leads to an optimistic view of this year’s stocks? It’s an election year, so Washington won’t be pumping out the same kind of negative publicity we saw in 2010-2011. With the Washington press easing back on the health care scare tactics, confidence in the market will increase, thus raises stock prices. No legislature will be passed to affect healthcare this year one way or another, the politics are too volatile. Hopefully, the effect will be lasting, but keeping in mind Washington’s love of drama and blame-gaming of late, I think a more stable boost would be welcomed.

Here are my concerns, and I welcome comments/feedback to address them:

First, as a young person entering the world of paying my own health and living costs, I’m concerned that Washington will glaze over the major problems in order to appear in control. Obama gleaned a lot of votes that way in 2008, dishing out assurances that everything would be fine if we just “change”. Obviously change was necessary, but the details of what was to be changed and how escaped his decorative oration. Will Congress continue to focus only on the here and now, and ignore the repercussions? This is a question that many stockholders are asking, but for different reasons. To put this very bluntly, by the time the full results of this come to light, most of the people in control now will be dead. My generation will be the ones truly affected by this down the road, when social security and government medical aid cough and sputter to their death. Already we see hospice and home care on the down-slide. Temporary patches and duct tape will only keep the problems at bay, or allow problems to develop elsewhere. Unless true reform is implemented (and by reform, I don’t mean Obamacare, I mean responsible, reasonable change that keeps long-term goals in mind not only for patients but for doctors and hospitals who need to remain profitable in order to exist in the first place), then when I am growing old and am really in need of medical care, my doctor will be a government employee on par with the DMV workers. Not cool, America.

Second, hospitals and physician networks across the country are dragging their feet to implement these new reform policies because they don’t know if they’ll have to do so at all after the election. This is one of many reasons our political machine is in need of repair. With so much uncertainty surrounding the major policies being implemented, who wants to follow the laws? Yea it might be law this year, but next year who knows. Let’s wait and see. The wait and see mentality can cripple the government in more ways than it has thus far. Without solidarity in leadership, we are in a constant battle amongst ourselves to pass and repeal legislature. I’ve said before, for every action, there is an equal and opposite government program. No one will follow a leader they think won’t lead them for long. Why begin a journey in one direction when the next guy will make us backtrack to where we started? Now, this is not an endorsement of current leadership. I think we should have a much better idea of where we want to go (and WHY that direction is the path) before we begin in one direction. This gutter-clogging is a large contributor to why our nation is going from an innovative, economic powerhouse to a grim monument of what was and what could have been.

Finally, one of Obama’s major acts (if not the major act) as President was his health reform. Yet in his State of the Union address, it was unmentioned. Unmentioned. What gives? This is a huge problem for my generation, as detailed above, and we are not yet in a position to do anything about it. We’re all looking for jobs or graduating college, trying to gain the experience necessary to take charge of our futures. This sort of politics does not inspire confidence that what we’re working towards will be possible. It is head-banging-against-wall frustrating that simply reading about what’s going on is enough to scare me, yet people in positions of power in Washington are pushing through these ridiculous policies. The damage may be done by the time I and others like me are in a position to have a hand in health care administration. Since we can’t do this yet, who is doing it now? Step up.

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