Despite the threat of congress further changing the rules of our health care system, and a 16 day shutdown of the federal government, leaders across Minnesota and the Midwest have been working to increase the accessibility to insurance while improving patient care and reducing costs. So, instead of focusing on the political bloviating in Washington, let’s turn our attention to the opportunities being developed right here in Minnesota and in the greater University of St. Thomas community, where improvements have already changed the way patients receive new health care benefits. Daniel McLaughlin, M.H.A, the director of the UST Center for Health and Medical Affairs, shared his insight to the progressive nature of our evolving local health care models.

MNsure, Minnesota’s insurance marketplace that launched October 1, has begun to improve current benefits and coverage options for many, while expanding the opportunity for first-time health insurance coverage to many uninsured Minnesotans. The insurance marketplace is revolutionary in itself, but McLaughlin explained further, the truly exciting implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act come with the introduction of shared savings and tax incentives for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The legislation is designed to promote high quality preventative care and save on costly medical procedures within partnered health care providers that operate within the organizational model.

In Minnesota, Allina Health and Fairview Health Services are among the 32 organizations involved in the Pioneer ACO program in partnership with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. These organizations are like laboratories with fiscal incentives to optimize their models to reduce health care cost by having healthier patients who require less costly patient care.

Pilot programs like the Pioneer ACO develop innovative business plans to optimize patient care. While there are many challenges and objections to the Affordable Care Act, it has created a set of boundaries for health care organizations to act within. McLaughlin notes the organizations have a new opportunity to thrive because everybody knows the rules of the game. With this in mind, the outlook for our healthcare models is optimistic.

Many of the leaders responsible for developing creative approaches to tackling the latest health care concerns and new regulations will be in attendance at the University of St. Thomas Executive Education’s 6th Annual UST Executive Conference on the Future of Health Care on November 8. At the conference forward thinking panelists and speakers from across the nation will share their expertise with health care executives and leaders.  Attendees will collaborate to develop resourceful solutions with the theme of transformation and transparency.

Rachael Barton works in UST Executive Education. To read more insights from Dan McLaughlin and the Center of Health & Medical Affairs, visit or subscribe to High Performance Health Care.