Faculty meeting highlights impact of health care reform

Dr. Bruce Meyer tells attendees of a recent Faculty Assembly meeting that UT Southwestern has plan-ned well for future changes to national health care policy.
Dr. Bruce Meyer tells attendees of a recent Faculty Assembly meeting that UT Southwestern has planned well for future changes to national health care policy. (David Gresham Photo)

By Lin Lofley

UT Southwestern Medical Center is well-positioned to handle future changes in national health care policy, Dr. Bruce Meyer, Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs, told attendees of the recent Faculty Assembly meeting on campus.

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had some significant impacts upon us as an organization,” Dr. Meyer said. “We have had significant increases in our benefit expense, primarily related to the increase in dependents on their parents’ policies at the institution and the additional tax to employers that was in the law.”

Also under the new health care law, the UT health system “faces the threat of readmission penalties,” he said, “but we’re one of two institutions in North Texas that have not yet had to pay any readmission penalties. We have to be diligent about taking appropriate care of patients.”

The penalties are designed to reduce the number of hospital patients readmitted within a month of being discharged.

Dr. Meyer also told faculty members attending the annual event that UT Southwestern “has initiated a number of programs encouraged by the ACA,” including bundled payments and shared savings programs, and “is deeply invested in trying to spread our network.”

Dr. Meyer’s presentation, one of several offered by campus leaders, preceded a discussion and question-and-answer session with panelists Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern; Dr. Greg Fitz, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Dean of the Medical School; Dr. Meyer; and Arnim Dontes, Executive Vice President for Business Affairs.

Asked to comment on how the missions of the Medical Center – education, research, and patient care – would succeed in a time of dwindling state budgets and research funding, Dr. Podolsky told faculty members that “each of our missions is made better by the other two. We will have maximum impact, ultimately, on the health of the world through our science, through our clinical care, and through teaching and training.”

Dr. George Liu, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and President of the Faculty Senate, moderated the meeting. Dr. Liu said he was pleased both with the turnout and with questions offered by faculty members.

“For the Assembly, we chose to present topics of faculty interest,” Dr. Liu said, surveying the gathering of about 175 faculty members. “Though there are many pathways of communication at UT Southwestern, these meeting events are particularly important for faculty and leadership to convene and share information on a grass-roots level.

“It is important to the faculty to appreciate that their concerns are being acknowledged and validated. The Senate will continue to function as the liaison between faculty and administration, helping to facilitate those lines of communication.”

Dr. Fitz holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science, and the Atticus James Gill, M.D. Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

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