Time out with T.O. - Mission Impossible, UNMC style

Reflections and observations by UNMC Public Relations’ Tom O’Connor | December 14, 2012

Call it Mission Impossible.

The assignment -- go to Lincoln to update legislative staff and state senators on the impact of the complicated health care reform law in a simple, understandable way.

picture disc.
Tom O'Connor
Yes, we know the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is more than 2,700 pages long ... and the task must be completed in 75 minutes.

Why do you think they call it Mission Impossible?

The five-member team that accepted the challenge included:

  • Mark Bowen, director, government relations, who served as moderator;
  • Brad Britigan, M.D., dean, College of Medicine;
  • Juliann Sebastian, Ph.D., dean, College of Nursing;
  • Cory Shaw, CEO, UNMC Physicians; and
  • Tom Tape, M.D., professor and chief of general internal medicine.

So, what intell was shared?

Dr. Britigan: "Physicians will be asked to provide more care and get paid less to do it."

Dr. Sebastian: "The population is aging. Nurses will play a key role in providing transitional care to assist patients when they leave the hospital. There will be an increasing demand for nursing at all levels and especially for nurse practitioners."

Shaw: "Health care is already rationed. There are way fewer doctors in northeast Omaha than there are 10 miles to the west. Today, once people meet their deductible, it's carte blanche. They'll seek whatever health care they need. We've got to find the right balance."

Dr. Tape: "We need a complete rethinking of how we pay for health care. More procedures don't necessarily result in better health. I've become a huge fan of the team-based care approach (offered by a medical home)." Tape oversees the medical home operating at the Midtown Clinic, which is run by resident physicians.

Shaw: "The health insurance exchanges will be like using Travelocity or Expedia. You can choose between first class and economy."

Dr. Tape: "Five percent of people use 50 percent of the health care resources. We need to identify these people and do everything we can to keep them out of the hospital."

Bowen: The Nebraska Medical Center provided $65 million in uncompensated care last year.

Did the panelists meet UNMC's goal of being an objective information resource for the state?

Here's what Claudia Lindley in Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell's office had to say: "Very worthwhile ... very helpful to hear about the team model, the projected work force needs and that people at UNMC are trying to address them."

Mission accomplished ... this story will now self-destruct.

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