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Sally Jeffcoat: In changing times, Saint Al’s mission is constant

September 28, 2013 

Sally Jeffcoat.

October 1 will be a significant milestone for health care in our nation and our state. On that date Americans without health insurance will begin selecting coverage through new health care exchanges, as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.

It is an understatement to say that this new federal law is not universally popular. As independent-minded people, Idahoans will not surrender their rights to decide what is best for themselves and their families — especially when it comes to something as personal and critical as health care.

But whether you support the health care law or see it as the first step toward a government-mandated, one-size-fits-all system, when uninsured Idahoans begin their search for health insurance, they will be using Your Health Idaho — our own state-run exchange. We are thankful that after the ACA was upheld by the Supreme Court, our state took a pragmatic, locally-focused approach to providing coverage for the uninsured through this plan based on free-market principles.

Clearly we are in the midst of one of the most challenging periods since I started my health care career as a registered nurse, caring for people from all walks of life. Understandably in such a complex sector, the road to continuously improving the health care delivery system is not without its potholes. But at Saint Alphonsus we are working hard to make sure that our efforts ultimately preserve, rather than restrict, choices and options that enable Idahoans to decide what’s best for them and their families.

As health care systems across the state now work to determine how best to address Idaho’s new program to expand access to care for the uninsured, Saint Alphonsus will continue to be guided by our mission to meet the health care needs of all people — including the less fortunate in our communities — while developing sustainable improvements in the way care is delivered.

For Saint Alphonsus this will include:

• Helping the uninsured both understand and navigate the new world of health insurance to find high-quality care close to home via Your Health Idaho.

• Continuing our focus on primary care physicians and clinicians — both independent and employed — and community-based hospitals and clinics to deliver effective, compassionate and integrated care to all people.

• Encouraging employers to incorporate more health and wellness incentives in their health benefit plans.

• Empowering consumers and patients by providing them with understandable information about the actual cost and quality of the health care services they receive from their providers.

Under Your Health Idaho, uninsured Idahoans should expect health care providers to focus on providing them access to high-quality, compassionate, patient-focused care — close to home — in a manner that is affordable and sustainable for the long term.

Our Saint Alphonsus health care mission calls us to do just that … to serve the needs of all people in our communities, including those who now need our help in understanding how to access care under Idaho’s new system.

Sally Jeffcoat is president and CEO of Saint Alphonsus Health System.

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