N.C. Law Review Hosts Symposium on Health Care Reform

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Whatever impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ultimately may have on Americans, the legislation, also known as ObamaCare, won’t change a part of health care that all patients, providers, regulators and payers face: the necessity to make decisions.

But the Affordable Care Act’s reforms will change the challenges inherent in making health care choices and increase the complexity involved.

The North Carolina Law Review’s 14th annual symposium, “Health Care Decisions in the New Era of Health Care Reform,” at the Kenan-Flagler Business School on Oct. 4, highlighted the challenges and possible solutions to making decisions as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

About 125 students, scholars and local attorneys attended the symposium, which featured 10 panelists from around the country, including Dr. Anne Drapkin Lyerly, associate professor in the Department of Social Medicine at UNC School of Medicine. The attendees included representatives from UNC’s School of Public Health. Topics focused on decision-making related to patient health care, insurance coverage and cost, and regulatory issues, as well as broader implications for health law and policy.

“We had great attendance and very good presentations. Each panelist who presented is well-known in this field. Putting the scholars together in one room resulted in a great event,” says Laura Nawrocki Krcmaric 3L, who organized the symposium with Anna Hartzog Tison 3L.

“The highlight of the symposium was allowing academics and practicing attorneys to engage in dialogue in an interdisciplinary event. Many of the panelists had both law and medical degrees, and they could fluently explain the medical and legal aspects of changes in decision-making,” Krcmaric says.

Among other issues, the symposium speakers addressed:

  • Whether or not to expand Medicaid
  • Regulation of health insurance and off-label drug promotion
  • Outsourcing health care decision-making
  • Decision-making for patients and their doctors related to birth, wellness and end-of-life issues
  • Patients’ decisions about the cost of care

“A distinct highlight of the symposium was the interdisciplinary legal, medical, and public health perspectives offered by the speakers, which led to deeper exploration of key issues,” say Joan Krause and Richard Saver, faculty co-chairs of the symposium.

One key issue with the nation’s health care system is persistent barriers, such as poor coordination among providers in managing patients’ care, and payers’ decisions regarding coverage and reimbursement without adequate information about treatments.

“The discussions during the symposium helped both to illuminate some of these barriers and to identify potential solutions to improve and encourage the quality of health care decision-making. All of the presentations were relevant to the implementation of health care reform or decision-making challenges that still lie ahead for the health care system,” Krause and Saver say.

The symposium may have a direct impact in North Carolina. A presentation by Mark Hall, law and public health professor at Wake Forest University, about the option of states to expand Medicaid is relevant to the current related debate in North Carolina.

Panelists’ pieces will be published in the symposium edition of the Review in May 2014.

-November 4, 2013

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