Healthcare Executives Split on Impact of the Affordable Care Act – Largely By Sector

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ABL Organization recently surveyed 249 California-based senior healthcare executives on how their organizations have been impacted by the first two years of the Affordable Care Act, and what issues they anticipate to come in the months ahead.

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“If you’re running a healthcare business, what you think the impact of the Affordable Care Act has been – or will be – is largely a factor of which particular sector you’re in,” noted Mimi Grant, President of the Adaptive Business Leaders Organization.

In the weeks following the June 28, 2012 Supreme Court decision to largely uphold the Affordable Care Act, 249 California-based senior healthcare executives responded to a survey asking them several questions about how their organizations had been impacted by the first two years of the law’s enactment, and what issues they anticipate in the months ahead.

“If you’re running a healthcare business, what you think the impact of the Affordable Care Act has been – or will be – is largely a factor of which particular sector you’re in,” noted Mimi Grant, President of the Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization, an executive networking and peer-advisory organization for healthcare leaders, which conducted the survey among California-based healthcare CEOs, Presidents, and Division GMs in early-to-mid July, following the Supreme Court decision upholding the main planks of the Affordable Care Act. “As our responses clearly show, not everyone in healthcare is embracing the ‘uncertainty’ that accompanies the law’s enactment,” Grant added. “On the other hand, one forward-thinking survey respondent shared: ‘I plan to be in a position to use this as an opportunity regardless.’”

The ABL survey posed a series of questions on how these executives were responding to the Affordable Care Act. The 249 respondents represented a range of sectors within the healthcare industry – self-identified as healthcare providers (44%), payers/insurance related (9%), life science (21%), health information technology (10%), and service providers (16%).

When the entire group was asked, “What impact do you believe the Affordable Care Act has already had on your healthcare business,” overall, 38% responded that the Act had already provided at least some opportunity for growth; while 45% had found it to be neutral, and 17% had found it to be negative or disastrous. However, when comparing the two largest groups of respondents – executives from providers (such as, hospitals, medical groups, home health, and ancillary providers) and those from the life science industry (medical device and biotechnology/pharmaceutical), a different picture emerges. Providers tended to be more positive regarding the initial impact, with 40% reporting seeing at least some opportunity already, 45% finding it neutral, 12% seeing the Act’s impact as negative, and only 3% seeing it as “disastrous.” On the other hand, of those responding from the life science industry, only 3% had seen the Act offering even some opportunity, 57% had seen it as neutral, 32% saw it as negative, and another 8% as “disastrous.”

The survey also asked the Group’s perspective (positive or negative) on three of the commonly discussed outcomes anticipated from the Act: more consolidation within the industry, greater transparency (particularly of quality and cost data), and value-pricing and cost-cutting. Given that the surveyed executives could select multiple “outcomes” of the Act, of the 249 respondents, 68% believed that consolidation would be an outcome, 66% anticipated greater transparency, and 75% expected a greater focus on value-pricing and cost-cutting.

The overall response from senior executives in all healthcare sectors indicated “consolidation” was viewed as a positive trend by 44%, with 18% seeing it as neutral, and 38% as a negative outcome. For providers, 54% saw consolidation in a positive light, 5% neutral, and only 24% negative; while in the life science industry 50% saw consolidation in a negative light, only 25% saw it positively, and another 25% viewed it neutrally.

When it comes to “transparency,” 69% of all the executives surveyed saw the move to greater transparency as a positive trend, while only 4% saw it as a negative, and 26% were neutral. Interestingly, both 72% of providers and 62% of life scientists agreed that greater transparency is a positive trend, while only 23% of the providers and 32% of the life scientists see the trend as negative, and 5% of the providers, and 6% of the life science group responded neutrally.

The third trend most of the respondents acknowledged was an anticipation of more value-pricing and cost-cutting: 45% of all the executives surveyed saw this trend as a positive, while 41% saw it in a negative light, and 14% were neutral. Here again, providers and life science industry executives diverged in their opinions, as this focus was seen as a negative trend by 47% of the providers and 59% of the life scientists; while it was seen as a positive trend by 41% of the providers, but only by 24% of the life science executives. It was seen as a neutral trend by 11% of the providers, and by 17% of the life scientists.

In addition to the executives’ responses regarding consolidation, greater transparency, and more value-pricing and cost-cutting, 42 of the respondents “wrote-in” their own “expectations” of the Act. Overall, 18 of these comments cast the impact of the Affordable Care Act in a favorable light, 16 reflected negative concerns, and 8 were neutral. Among them, two of the providers anticipated that “increased payment/coverage will have a positive impact on us.” Meanwhile, three of the life science senior executives specifically cited the medical device tax as having a negative impact. Another respondent reflected that it is “Way too early to tell. Too many unknowns like the upcoming election. All we know is things will be different.”

About the Adaptive Business Leaders Organization:

The ABL Organization supports its Member CEOs by facilitating confidential Round Tables for Healthcare and Technology executives, where they can draw on the experience, knowledge and skill sets of their peers, in a confidential, personal advisory board setting. The core component of the CEO Membership experience is the monthly, half-day Round Table, where Members meet with a group of their industry peers - CEOs, Presidents, COOs and Division GMs - from non-competing companies. During each session, Members share their best practices as they tackle topics like: “Resilient Management: How Healthcare Organizations Can Remain Positive in the Face of Challenge & Change,” “Creating a Culture of Accountability,” “Lessons Learned in Accountable Care,” “Using Metrics to Manage & Make Strategic Decisions,” “Patient Engagement: The Next Frontier,” and “Motivating Behavior Change.” Also, at each session, Featured Members make Strategic Advisory Board presentations, imparting valuable insights and receiving leveraged feedback from the Group.

ABL Members are also encouraged to attend every-other-monthly ABL Workshops and Conferences held on such topics as “Health Reform in Action,” “Approaches That Work to Create a More Productive Culture,” “Partnering to Win in an Era of Reformed Healthcare,” and “Closing the Deal,” where they can exchange ideas and connect with other chief executives from throughout California. Beyond their Round Table, ABL Members are encouraged to meet one-on-one, serving as one another’s real-time advisors, leveraging each other’s skills, expertise, and connections. Additionally, each Round Table’s professional facilitator serves as an objective business advisor, offering executive and industry insights.

ABL’s Healthcare Round Tables are held in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Silicon Valley and San Francisco; and the Organization’s Technology Round Tables are held in Los Angeles, Orange County, and the San Gabriel Valley. More information about and testimonials from Member of the ABL Organization can be found at

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