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The Nursing of America

Advance health care without cutting Medicaid

February 17, 2011
By Linda Kay Goodwin

Advancing health care research and technology, while providing stellar services focusing on quality outcomes, are health care goals. Keeping patients informed, happy and exceptionally satisfied with their care while under our care is another goal at which providers work hard.

All of these goals demand a solid financial foundation. This foundation must include federal, state, private and business investors. Right now, the White House is proposing more than $28 billion in cuts to Medicaid in its 2012 budget. Unfortunately, these cuts may affect at-risk populations.

As the most advanced health care system globally, the United States has proven its leadership time and again in its aggressive pursuit of excellence. We have a history of future-thinking leadership.

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However, when Congress talks about reducing Medicaid payments to offset Medicare payments, that's not future-thinking.

Right now, we're on the cusp of many health care advances. These include treating genetic disorders and even conducting surgery on unborn children with birth defects while they still are in the mother's womb.

From genetic research and organ transplants to prosthetic replacements and new medications, we depend on the government to stay on course with our culture of progress.

Right now, a big aspect of that progress is pointed at advancing health information systems, which actually is a federal mandate. In response, many providers are working to transform their information systems into useful tools that speed record keeping and data retrieval. A recent example of the benefits of these advances occurred when my mom's urologist from the eastern panhandle was able to pull up her ultrasound images that had been completed at another facility three months prior to her recent test.

While I had hard copies of her reports to provide her physician, he preferred to see the images on his computer screen. He explained, "The radiologist and I work as a team. Each of us may observe something that may affect the patient's diagnosis or treatment."

I was delighted to discover that her physician not only used the images as a diagnostic tool, but also as a teaching aid, explaining to my mom the cyst's size, position and type.

As these advances continue, health care executives will work toward finding solutions for a solid financial picture.

The American College of Healthcare Executives and the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development in its publication "Futurescan 2011" address contingency planning for health care reform and provide innovative methods for staying on course, despite projected budget cuts.

They address reimbursement related to quality and efficiency and the meaningful use of health information technology.

Advancing health care research and technology, while providing stellar services, always will be the mainstay of our industry.

It's my hope, however, that our elected representatives and stakeholders share in this mission without tightening Medicaid's boot strings.

(Editor's note: Linda Kay Goodwin, MBA, BSN, RN, is a nationally award-winning columnist and recipient of the American Academy of Nursing Media Award for Excellence in the presentation of Health Care Information to the Public. A health care consultant and West Virginia native, she may be reached at



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