SVP Rick Gundling recaps new workshops, Biden and surprise bills
HFMA’s new online education format was such a hit last year, we’ve built more healthcare finance workshops for 2021.
I sat down with Rick Gundling, HFMA’s senior vice president of professional practice, who oversees it all, to talk more about this year’s education plans, as well as a few hot healthcare topics
HFMA is busy developing more premium online education focused on very real-time issues in healthcare. What can members expect?
Rick Gundling: Price transparency, denials, supply chain, telehealth — these are all topics that have been elevated during the pandemic, and none are going away. With no in-person events in 2020, we had to get creative about delivering content, so we developed a series of workshops focused on price transparency. They were so well-received, we’re putting together more workshops for this year. I like them because you get to hear presenters, then you get to digest the session, then you come back together and have a dialogue. It’s a great way to learn.
The Biden administration has a full plate to say the least. What are you expecting in terms of healthcare priorities?
Gundling: Clearly the top priorities will remain vaccine funding, distribution and implementation and getting a handle on the COVID trajectory. But I also see related issues like Medicaid funding emerging. With the contraction of the economy, a lot more people are in the Medicaid pool. It’s already larger than Medicare and growing, so I would foresee changes around loosening eligibility and greater support for people in hard-hit industries, like food and travel. The public option was a major point during the primary season, but I don’t see a lot of political effort being put into that. It was never one of President Biden’s top issues, and we’re already putting trillions into COVID stimulus funds, so I don’t see “Medicare-for-All” moving front and center in the near term.
The No Surprises Act passed as part of the COVID stimulus package and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. What do HFMA members need to know about this legislation?
Gundling: First, let’s all just agree that no patient should ever get a surprise bill. It’s not fair and it impoverishes people. There was a Federal Reserve study that says an unexpected expense of just $400 would throw about a third of Americans into financial distress. What happens when someone unexpectedly has to pay a $2,500 deductible? Every effort should be made to help patients understand their financial responsibilities upfront to avoid hardships down the road.
For years, we’ve provided guidance to help providers minimize the chances of surprise bills. But with the new law, it will behoove health plans and providers to work more closely to limit the surprise bills or else it will go to arbitration. HFMA will have even more content around the new law later this year, but as always, it’s critical to have a dialogue with patients early in the care process. And given how many people are experiencing coverage changes, it might be more important than ever.