An hour after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act on Thursday morning, leaders of four of Iowa’s top healthcare organizations announced that they’re creating a first-of-its-kind health care alliance aimed at improving care statewide while decreasing patient costs.
The alliance, officially being called the University of Iowa Health Alliance, will include more than 50 hospitals and more than 160 clinics in a collaboration to improve health care services and the overall health status of people in communities across Iowa.
Jean Robillard, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Iowa, said the alliance is going to have a strong focus on prevention as well as coordination of top-quality care, expertise and research.
“This alliance is to improve the health of every Iowan and try to prevent as much as we can the need for acute care,” he said.
The alliance aims to help the organizations involved reduce the rising cost of health care and pass along savings to patients, in part, by creating efficiencies. Members of the alliance will benefit from shared infrastructure for upgrades to technology systems, for example.
“And we want to bring to communities the discoveries that we are doing,” Robillard said about the alliance’s goal to share information from the University of Iowa’s research and education departments with health care professionals across the state.
The four healthcare organizations include the University of Iowa Health Care, Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Mercy Health Network in Des Moines and Genesis Health System in the Quad Cities.
Leaders of the organizations stressed during a press conference Thursday morning that the organizations will remain independent while collaborating to provide some patient services and share expertise, some operational costs and research endeavors.
The discussion around the need for healthcare reform, even before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, led to the creation of the UI Health Alliance, said Tim Charles, president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids.
“All of this debate has set in motion a different conversation,” Charles said. “It brought parties together and health systems together that wouldn’t normally be working together to find a solution and be innovative.
“This is an exciting and watershed moment,” he said.
Charles said that by agreeing to work together, the organizations were able to share some of the costs associated with infrastructure for the alliance, but he stressed that the collaboration “is not a merger of assets.”
“The alliance respects and honors the individuality of the organization, and it respects our independence and the authority of each of our governing bodies,” he said. “It promotes the delivery of care that we think will be required to uphold this morning’s health care legislation.”
Doug Cropper, president and CEO of Genesis Health System in Davenport, said the hospitals scheduled their announcement regarding the new alliance before knowing what the Supreme Court would say about the Affordable Care Act.
He said market forces are calling for changes in how health care is administered, and Iowa’s health care organizations are responding.
“We are taking it upon ourselves to respond to the market and collaborate together to improve quality,” Cropper said.