Big challenges will continue, including the recruitment of family-practice physicians, especially in rural communities. “There are just not enough physicians wanting to be family doctors.”
Another challenge, she says, is managing the daily unknowns resulting from external forces, such as government regulations and consumer needs.
Which gets to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Close is her straight-talking self: “My personal feelings are that regardless of which political party was in power, we needed intervention as a nation. People are without health care, and it’s expensive to have a life-threatening illness.
“Statistics show many Americans filing bankruptcy to pay for health care debt. Without insurance it’s a lose-lose situation for everyone — the patient, the hospital, the doctors and ultimately families.”
She thinks the ACA, based on household income and dependents, may make more people eligible for health insurance coverage through Medicaid or other affordable insurance options on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Asked if she sees negatives in the ACA, she responded:
“There are a lot of horror stories and inaccurate quotes being circulated. I have two volumes of books explaining and analyzing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act implementation, and I understand health care. I question how others not versed in health care can translate the act so easily and on the spot. It has been a challenge for those of us in health care to understand the meaning and impact.”
People in her position “are going to have to figure out how we fund this without burdening low income and the shrinking middle class,” she says.
Asked about changes she has seen in her career, Close says the greatest shift has been in advanced technology. “It’s incredible to see how far health care has grown in treating heart, lung, kidney and bone disease from drug therapy, surgical interventions and even transplants.”