BY SHANZEH AHMAD
Wisconsin is ranked in the middle of all states for quality of healthcare but second highest in the nation for cost.
Chris Queram, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, said that even though Wisconsin and the rest of the nation have made progress in the last 15 years, there is still a long way to go in terms of improving the value of the care that is delivered. “If we start making significant improvements in the value of care at the lowest possible cost, by definition that is going to relieve some of the pressure in terms of what we are able to offer to everyone,” said Queram.
Edgewood’s School of Business hosted its third installment of the Executive Speaker Series on April 19. The panel session focused on various perspectives on the value and quality in healthcare.
Panelists also included Dr. Timothy Bartholow, vice president and chief medical officer at WEA Trust, who gave the “payer” perspective, State Medicaid Director at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Michael Heifetz, who gave the “Medicaid” perspective, and Lee Wiersma. president and chief human resources officer at UW Credit Union, who gave the “employer” perspective.
Raj Kamal, a senior lecturer in the UW School of Business, moderated the panel session.
Kamal said that the event aimed to provide different perspectives on the value and quality that comes from the tremendous national investment in healthcare.
“Healthcare is highly complex, and it affects every one of us,” said Kamal. “The industry involves many stakeholders, large amounts of money, and is highly controversial currently,” said Kamal.
Bartholow said that worker’s wages are going up at a very slow rate, yet health insurance premiums are going up much quicker than that.
“There’s no expense in the family’s budget that’s growing faster than healthcare,” said Bartholow. “Traditional healthcare is costing about $3 trillion, which is somewhere around 18 percent of the gross domestic product. It’s also costing us the health of the community, which is a bigger idea.”
Heifetz said that Medicaid could do more to enhance the quality that they receive from their providers and to hold insurers accountable for the care that they are delivering to members and taxpayers.
“We want quality and affordable care,” said Heifetz. “We’re accountable to our members, but mostly we’re accountable to taxpayers and legislature since we are spending public money.”
Stevie Watson, Dean of the Edgewood College School of Business, said that the Executive Speaker Series brings in top executives, top middlemen, and CEOS to talk about pressing issues. “The panel session was held to educate people on what is going on, to talk about it, and to encourage young people to do something about it,” said Watson.
“The goal for next year is to have four panel sessions: one in September, one in November, one in February, and one in April,” said Watson. “There’s a lot of potential topics, and I want to focus on looking at what resonates with audience members and what’s really big in the city of Madison.”
Watson said that they always try to have at least one panel session on healthcare and that they will try to include Black History Month again.
The February session was a part of Black History Month. “It focused on unemployment and economic challenges faced by the African-American community,” said Watson.