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WJBD - Local News - St. Mary's Good Samaritan CEO Worries About Healthcare Industry's Future

St. Mary's Good Samaritan CEO Phil Gustafson addresses the Chamber of Commerce.

St. Mary's Good Samaritan CEO Worries About Healthcare Industry's Future

By Rob Sussman, WJBD News

A local healthcare executive is predicting "big trouble" ahead for the industry in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital CEO Phil Gustafson addressed the Centralia Chamber of Commerce during their monthly meeting on Wednesday, and shared what he called "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" of the nation's fledgling healthcare reform law.

Citing incredibly high overhead costs and incredibly low medicare payouts, Gustafson said that the nation's hospitals, including St. Mary's Good Samaritan, will have to look at cuts if the schedule of reductions is carried out over the next few years. Gustafson says that the Healthcare Industry will suffer a period of stagnation after years of previous growth as a direct result of the new Health Care Act.

"We are faced with dramatic cuts in payment with no real way to reduce overhead. Unless some things change, we as an industry are going to be in big, big trouble over the next few years" Gustafson said.

But healthcare isn't going to be the only industry negatively impacted by the Affordable Care Act, according to Gustafson. He said that once the Employer insurance mandate is put into affect later this year, the traditional relationship between employers and employees will be terminally damaged.

"I think we are going to see more and more employers who just put together a few thousand dollars and say 'Here, staff member, you're on your own, go find your own insurance on the exchanges'" said Gustafson.

Gustafson says that employers are being disincentivised by the new law and will make fewer and fewer full time positions, opting instead for part-time labor, which is not subject to certain parts of the law.

A lack of risk management and underwriting in the Health Insurance business post-Obamacare leads Gustafson to believe the Health Insurance industry is heading for collapse and may eventually approach congress for a bailout, despite an overall higher level of revenue.

It was not all doom and gloom from Gustafson. He praised certain segments of the law that allow for greater care coordination and hospital networking in order to adequately treat patients as well as segments that empower hospitals to seek out non-compliant patients with broader health initiatives.

Gustafson, in an interview Thursday morning, noted the executive management team at St. Mary's/Good Samaritan, Inc. have a plan and have made commitments to each other to make any needed adjustments gradually as new parts of the Affordable Care Act are implemented. 

The majority of President Barack Obama's trademark healthcare law went into effect last year, encountering serious speed bumps, such as a buggy and non-functional online exchange along the way. Issues with the healthcare exchange have been fixed as of January, however enrollment numbers have still fallen short of White House projections.

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