Riveros talks Del. preparation for affordable health care
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Students listened Tuesday night in Kirkbride Hall as Bettina Riveros, the chair of the Delaware Health Care Commission, discussed the Affordable Care Act and the state’s preparation for its implementation. The discussion was sponsored by the university’s Department of Public Policy and Administration.
Edward Freel, a policy scientist in the Institute for Public Administration, said Riveros served as an advisor to Governor Jack Markell for health care reform. She also served as an executive board member of the Delaware Health Information Network and as director of product development and corporate council for the Corporation Service Company, an international legal technology and services company headquartered in Wilmington, he said.
Riveros said a current problem in health care is deciding how to cover expenses for illnesses that require costly drugs. For example, she said a child who took a particular blood-clotting drug for a chronic illness was able to play soccer like a normal 10-year-old for the first time in his life, but the drug cost $10,000 per month. The mother’s insurance provider expected her to pay one-quarter of that each month, though it was something she could not realistically afford.
Insurance providers have had difficulty managing payments for cases such as this, Riveros said. She said the health care system needs a transformation in order to make necessary medication affordable and available for everyone, especially those who need treatment for chronic illnesses.
“As you dig down, what you really need to focus on is chronic disease and proactive management of chronic disease,” Riveros said. “We spend a lot of money for acute health care, paying for diseases that have not been properly managed.”
Riveros said the way the health care system currently runs is inefficient, though it has the potential to provide affordable, efficient healthcare to those who need it. While healthcare is essential, she said it is also a business and should run in a productive way to benefit both those who need healthcare and work within the system.
With a population of around 900,000, Delaware contains about 106,000 individuals who are uninsured, Riveros said. Programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are primarily supported by the state of Delaware and cover a significant portion of the population, she said.
Freel said although Delaware is moving forward in adjusting policies for affordable health care, there is still much work to be done. He said it will be up to the upcoming generation to further support affordable health care and make sure the current policies are built upon and perfected.
“This is not a done deal,” Freel said. “I think that’s the important thing to take away. It’s going to be up to your generation to begin to think of these issues and problems and build on what’s been done here, but understand there’s more to be done.”
Jessica Bunting, a master’s student in Public Administration, said she thought the talk was interesting and beneficial for her. She said she is focused on performance management, so Riveros’ discussion of the Delaware Health Information Network was perfect for her line of studies.
Bunting also said she enjoyed the details about the various aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including different coverage options available and the fact that some companies are considering eliminating co-pays.
“Often we hear about it talked in generalities, so to know some of the actual details and requirements, both for insurers and for health providers, that is a lot of knowledge that I didn’t have and didn’t really understand before,” Bunting said.