Obamacare changing how hospitals treat patients - WNCN: News, Weather

Obamacare changing how hospitals treat patients

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Heart patient Steve Stasio said he once waited for 13 hours in an ER and was never seen. Stasio said he has seen a stark difference in care since the Duke Heart Failure Clinic opened in 2012. Heart patient Steve Stasio said he once waited for 13 hours in an ER and was never seen. Stasio said he has seen a stark difference in care since the Duke Heart Failure Clinic opened in 2012.
DURHAM, N.C. -

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, changing the way some patients will experience medical care.

More than 7 million people have signed up for insurance through healthcare.gov. That creates a new group of patients to care for, affecting not only the patient, but insurance companies and hospitals, too.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has been busy analyzing and implementing the more than 20,000 pages of the law.

“It’s changed almost everything about our business,” said Brian Caveney, vice president and medical director of BCBSNC.

Caveney said not only have the rules and regulations changed, but so have the taxes and fees, the products they build and the way the company contracts with doctors and hospitals.

Doctors like Dr. Zubin Eapen, medical director at the Duke Heart Failure Clinic, said hospitals are facing the big challenge of giving patients timely access to care.

“Timely access to care and timely access to intensive treatments are two things that hospitals may not have but will need to have as we think about more patients coming to use emergency departments in hospitals,” Eapen said.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act had said it would help reduce emergency room visits, since more people would be able to go to primary care doctors. But a Harvard University study published in the Journal Science earlier this year, suggested that may not be the case.

But rising emergency room visits are a concern for hospitals, and one way hospitals are dealing with overflowing emergency rooms are through new same-day clinics.

The Duke Heart Failure Clinic is a separate facility from the emergency room, allowing heart patients faster access to what could be life-saving treatment.

Heart patient Steve Stasio said he once waited for 13 hours in an ER and was never seen. Stasio said he has seen a stark difference in care since the Duke Heart Failure Clinic opened in 2012.

Heart patients can now avoid the ER and go straight to the heart clinic.

Eapen said Duke Hospital has seen a 15 percent reduction in 30-day readmission rates for heart failure over the past year.

He said for the first time in a long time, interests are aligned among patients, insurance companies and hospitals.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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