New Law's Challenges
Julie Freischlag, M.D.
Date: December 4, 2012
With the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, there’s no shortage of opinions about the fate of health care and where we go from here.
In theory, the new law holds great potential, primarily because of its intent to make care available to all Americans, no matter their income or social status. But there are logistical issues we must tackle—primarily, that increased access to our already-strapped medical system means more people will actually use it. So hospitals and doctors’ offices will likely become more overrun than ever. Meanwhile, as providers of that care, we bear much of the responsibility to teach our patients how to tap into their newfound access—and, preferably, how to avoid needing services altogether.
It won’t be easy. Today, the process by which people seek and receive care is often convoluted. Patients flock to emergency rooms rather than to the primary care physicians who could better serve them. Or, worse still, they wait out illnesses that should have been treated immediately. By then, they likely need drastic surgeries or traumatic therapies. The sad reality is that our system has not always been conducive to preventive medicine—perhaps the only way to truly lighten the load on our medical system, cut costs and improve our nation’s health.
Fortunately, the new law includes provisions that promote preventive care and patient education.
We at Johns Hopkins are doing all we can to enhance that education and to improve our own accessibility to the patients, whether by seeking the best-trained physicians or through improved facilities, like our new clinical buildings. As the new law takes effect, we will only grow more committed in our mission to offer care to every patient in need. And, as we learn how to navigate the new processes and rules, we may be better able to do so than ever before.
From Julie Freischlag, Director of Surgery