3 hospital CEOs forecast the King v. Burwell decision, healthcare in 2017

The CEOs of MemorialCare Health System, Ochsner Medical Center and Cook County Health and Hospitals each agreed about the likely outcome of King v. Burwell, although their perspectives differed about healthcare legislation under a newly elected president in 2017.

As part of the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting in Chicago, Tucker Carlson, moderator and Fox News correspondent, posed some questions about the outcome of the Supreme Court case and what healthcare legislation may come up under a new president in 2017.


  • Barry Arbuckle, PhD, president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System in Long Beach, Calif. Dr. Arbuckle leads the six-hospital system that includes a health plan, two medical groups and several outpatient, imaging and surgery centers.
  • Robert Wolterman, CEO of Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. Mr Wolterman leads the 473-bed flagship facility of Ochsner, a system that includes 1,100 employed physicians and 13 hospitals. Ten years ago, Ochsner was a one-hospital system.
  • John Jay Shannon, MD, CEO of Cook County Health & Hospitals in Chicago. Dr. Shannon leads the safety-net health system for Chicago and suburban Cook County. The system includes two hospitals, 16 community clinics, the largest HIV center in the Midwest and a Medicaid managed care plan called CountyCare, which covers approximately 180,000 lives and is the second-largest Medicaid managed care plan in the Chicago area.

Thoughts on the outcome of King v. Burwell

Dr. Barry Arbuckle: "I'd be shocked if the government lost the case. I think it'll be a 6-3 vote, not even a 5-4. Chief Justice John Roberts had the opportunity last time to interfere with the ACA, and he didn't. If I'm wrong, I think it'll take about 24 hours for states using the exchange to call up their attorney generals to say they will outsource the exchange."

Robert Wolterman: "I think [the lawsuit] is irrelevant as well. I think the button's been pushed on the rocket and it's been launched. I agree with Barry: Regardless of that decision, I don't see much of an impact or much of a change on what is already happening and how systems have already reacted."

Dr. John Jay Shannon: "I have to agree. We talked a lot about things not working right, but if you look at the numbers of 14 million to 18 million more Americans who weren't insured three years ago having insurance now, while that's not a magic solution it is an absolutely minimal requirement and a step in the right direction. I don't think the president or HHS administrator is being coy when they say they don't have a plan B. It is inconceivable to have a plan B."

Hopes and anticipations for healthcare legislation in 2017 under a new president

Dr. Barry Arbuckle: "I was flabbergasted [legislators] got the SGR taken care of. I was amazed. What they didn't touch, which I'm surprised about, is they should move to site-neutral payments. They could have easily done it to offset some expense of SGR. They didn't, and I don't know why. That would force care into the right venue at the right price."

Robert Wolterman: "Not paying us for readmissions. There is not one administrator who thinks we should generate additional profits when we do not take care of patients or get people sick. I think keep pushing us and keep holding us accountable for outcomes. I think that's the direction the government will continue to evolve in, and it's a hard argument to be against."

Dr. John Jay Shannon: "The wish list would be to see Medicare and Medicaid flex muscles on good purchasing. The other thing — we need to get outside of healthcare delivery. Nutritional options, safety, education levels, housing — those do not fall under traditional areas [of healthcare]. Anything that helps us partner with housing and other agencies would be very helpful."

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