Healthcare Leaders, Patient Advocates Mark ACA’s 6th Anniversary Gains Seen in Insurance Coverage, Quality of Care and Patient Engagement

March 25, 2016

Healthcare leaders gathered at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick to mark the sixth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act and the enrollment and quality improvement gains that have followed.

Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was joined by New Jersey lawmakers Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Delran); Betsy Ryan, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association; and Celia Zalkind, executive director of the Advocates for Children of New Jersey. Amy Mansue, president and CEO of Children’s Specialized Hospital, hosted the event and also welcomed Uma Mena, a mother who shared her own family’s perspective on the benefits of the reform law.

“This landmark piece of legislation signed into law six years ago has expanded coverage to 20 million Americans, while health care prices have risen at the slowest rate in five decades,” said Cornell-Bechelli. “Most importantly, millions of families now have the opportunities,  and stability that comes with an insurance card, and this is translating to real life health improvement. The stories we’ve heard from families are testament to the reforms we’ve achieved together.”

While the ACA’s enrollment gains have been well documented, Cornell-Bechelli highlighted some of the healthcare improvement aspects, among them the Partnership for Patients initiative.

“The Affordable Care Act has had a tremendous and meaningful impact on providing individuals and families across New Jersey with access to the affordable, quality health care that they deserve. We have seen its success over the past years, with a marked decline in the number of uninsured across the state,” said Senator Vitale. “We must continue building on that momentum and focusing our efforts on improving the quality of care patients receive, preventing illness and promoting health for all New Jerseyans.”

Assemblyman Conaway shared “Insurance access equates to better health and better health outcomes.  Just having insurance gives peace of mind to so many mothers and fathers not having to worry about the unexpected injury or illness that could have devastating and lasting, financial impact on a family.”

That program is one of several quality improvement activities created by the ACA. In New Jersey, HHS selected the Institute for Quality and Patient Safety at the New Jersey Hospital Association to lead one of 27 “hospital engagement networks,” with all of the state’s acute care hospitals now engaged in the effort to improve quality and reduce healthcare costs. In its first three years, the program in New Jersey has helped avert more than 13,700 adverse events for hospital patients and has realized more than $120 million in healthcare savings, said NJHA’s Ryan.

This year, the Partnership for Patients is focusing on additional quality improvement activities, including Patient and Family Engagement. Mansue shared some of the best practices in place at Children’s Specialized Hospitals, including engaging parents at the bedside in full conversations with the clinical team and appointing parents and family members to advisory boards. The programs, she said, recognize that patients and family members are essential partners in quality healthcare and good outcomes.

Her comments were echoed by Celia Zalkind, executive director of the Advocates for Children New Jersey, and by Uma Mena, who worked alongside the hospital team as a very active partner in the care of her son, Aditya.

“Children’s Specialized Hospital gave us hope. They gave us a projected date when Addy would be going home and we all worked toward making that a reality,” said Mrs. Mena.

Children’s Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges — from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. At thirteen different New Jersey locations, our pediatric specialists partner with families to make our many innovative therapies and medical treatments more personalized and effective...so children can achieve more of their goals.  To help, or find more information: call 888-CHILDRENS; visit www.childrens-specialized.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/childrensspecialized; Twitter: www.twitter.com/childrensspecnj; YouTube: www.youtube.com/cshnj; LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/children's-specialized-hospital