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Swedish's Perspective on the SCOTUS Ruling of the Affordable Care Act

As you have likely heard by now, the Supreme Court this morning issued a landmark decision that will allow implementation of the new health-care law to move forward.

Swedish aligned with the Washington State Hospital Association in support of the passage of the Affordable Care Act because it provides for better access to care for more individuals throughout the country. We recognize there are many supporting and opposing voices around this topic, and while not a perfect piece of legislation, the law will provide coverage for 30 million people who otherwise have no access to insurance by 2014.

While the Court’s decision brings additional clarity to national health reform, our commitment to improving health care regionally remains the same. For the past six years, Swedish has worked diligently to improve quality, reduce costs and increase access to health care, and we are fully committed to continuing down this path. We also remain committed to serving all those in need. Last year alone, Swedish provided $146 million in community-benefit activities.

Here is a summary of the ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

The Supreme Court ruled this morning on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). The Court ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. While the Court did not find that the law was constitutional under the Commerce Clause, as argued by lawyers representing the federal government, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if they refuse to buy insurance is a tax and that Congress has the authority to impose such a tax.

According to the SCOTUS Blog: “Because the individual mandate survived, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.”

The court’s ruling gave President Obama a victory of sorts on a law whose most controversial provision — the individual mandate — is not set to take effect until 2014. Some popular provisions, such as family coverage for children up to age 26, have already taken effect. Congress gave the bill final approval in March 2010 on the strength of a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate; Republicans gained control of the House in November 2010 in part by capitalizing on opposition to the mandate and vowing to try to repeal the law in its entirety.

Below is a synopsis of some of the key provisions that remain law after today’s court decision...

A year in the life of the Swedish blog

For those of you who don't know, today is the official anniversary of the Swedish blog - this means Swedish has been blogging several times a week for a complete year!

What have we been blogging about?

Who's been blogging?

We've had people from all around the organization blogging (more than 60 the last time we checked), including:

  • Surgeons

  • Nurses

  • Family Medicine and Primary Care Physicians

  • Dietitians

  • Educators

  • (And many others!)

Why are we blogging?

We started the blog as a way to connect with you (our community), whether you're a current patient, a past patient, a future patient…or just someone who stumbled across our site looking for health information. We believe our role is to be a resource of information, both online and off. Blogging gives us an easy way to keep you up to date, informed, and engaged on a number of health topics…and to help you and your family stay healthy.

What comes next?

Actually, if you're reading this, we hope you'll help us answer this question! What do you want to see next from this blog? Do you have a favorite doctor or nurse that you'd like to hear from? Are there certain topics or questions you'd like to learn more about? Do you like videos? We'd love to know what you think anytime, but especially in light of our anniversary, we hope you'll leave a comment below and let us know if there's anything in particular you'd like to see next.

Thanks for reading the blog, and thanks for being a part of the Swedish community!

Creating Healthy Communities

On Saturday, March 10th, Sallie Neillie and I will be presenting a workshop at Guiding Lights. Here is a synopsis:

Creating Healthy Communities: a Story of Corporate Citizenship

This workshop is a great primer for anyone interested in how good corporate citizenship contributes to the vibrancy of communities. In response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Swedish Medical Center developed a Community Needs Assessment that became the cornerstone of a clinic providing specialty care for the uninsured in King County. Through partnerships with non-profits and foundations, over 300 Physicians and Dentists are now providing no-cost care for the underserved at this clinic. In this workshop, you will learn how to develop your own Community Needs Assessment, and discuss how to create a vibrant, evolving network of partner organizations to meet a need in your community.

Swedish and Minor & James at the Northwest Women's Show

Come to the Northwest Women’s Show held this Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 4 and visit the various Swedish and Minor & James booths. Come learn about Weight Loss Services, try your hand on the daVinci robot at the Robotics Surgery Program booth, visit Minor & James and ask skin-care questions or learn about the women’s health services available. Or, take a look inside the Swedish Mobile Mammography van and learn about mammograms and breast care.

(Make sure you take advantage of a $2 off coupon for admission to the show!)

We'll also have the hands-on daVinci robot device so you can test your hand skills on the robot and get an idea of what it would be like to be a robotic surgeon at Swedish - you can also meet our gynecological surgeons and ask any questions you have.

Patient Appreciation Day Today at Swedish/Issaquah

Today's the day! Or at least one of the many days that fun things are happening at Swedish.

Today is one of our Patient Appreciation days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Swedish/Issaquah.

If you live or work on the Eastside, we hope you'll have a chance to stop by. Our friends at Coho Café will be providing free samples of a heart-healthy dish and two Swedish dieticians will be on-hand to provide heart-healthy eating advice. (But even if you can't come in person, you'll find over 100 tasty heart healthy recipes that are dietitian approved here. If you try one out, come back & share in the comments if you liked it!)

We’re also offering 200 free blood pressure screenings on a first-come-first-serve basis. Free stress-relieving massages will also be given throughout the event.

Speaking of stress, if you're stressed that you can't stop by, you can still participate in the fun online. Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.(Pacific Time), find and tweet the answer of this question to @Swedish:

“What is the American Heart Association recommendation for healthy blood pressure?”

Remember, you need to include "@Swedish" in your tweet so we can see your response! We'll provide the answer at noon, and one person who answers correctly will be randomly selected and awarded a Gene Juarez gift certificate for a 60-minute, stress-relieving massage. (You'll need to be local and willing to pick up the gift card in person - make sure you're following @Swedish on Twitter so we can DM you if you win!).

Valentine's Open House at Swedish/Issaquah

Join us for a night out at Swedish!

What do a surgical robot and the Sammamish Symphony String Quartet have in common? You can see both at Swedish/Issaquah on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.
 

Bring your valentine to this fun night out at Swedish — the Sammamish Symphony String Quartet will be holding a 90-minute performance starting at 6 p.m. Swedish is excited to host the quartet, so bring your family, friends and neighbors for this free community concert. It promises to be a fun, relaxed evening. While listening to the quartet’s beautiful music, you can also browse and shop our boutiques. The Shops at Swedish will remain open until 8 p.m. — find that special gift for your valentine, just in time for Valentine’s Day! Plus, complimentary chair massages will be offered in the Be Well shop — come take advantage of the mini massages.   
 
In addition, Swedish’s new robotic surgical system will be out on display; you can see the high-tech equipment used for knee surgeries up close! (Can't come, but interested in how the robots are used in knee surgeries? Check out these highlights from a live knee surgery.)
 
Café 1910 — Swedish/Issaquah’s café — will be open until 8 p.m. so stop by to meet our chefs and see what delicious food they have to offer. As an added treat during the event, Starbucks will offer a free tall drip of their featured Valentine’s Coffee — Verona.

Swedish Named a 2011 Top Hospital

Our medical director for quality and patient safety, Mary Gregg, MD, MHA, blogs about Swedish's Top Hospital Award:

Of all the awards Swedish has won over the years, the most meaningful is the Top Hospital Award given by the Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group. I am very proud to announce that Swedish has earned the award once again this year: The Leapfrog Group today named Swedish First Hill among the nation’s 2011 Top Hospitals.

Dr. Mary GreggThe reason this award is such an honor for us is that our physicians, nurses and other staff have been working tirelessly for years to develop a culture of safety and quality on behalf of our patients. This award validates their efforts because it is based on performance on key quality and safety metrics. Of 1,200 hospitals nationally, Swedish is one of only 65 in the country that are meeting these standards.

I want to use this opportunity to acknowledge our staff for their commitment to quality and safety and to thank them for everything they do for our patients on a daily basis. I also want to acknowledge our hospital in Ballard. Although that campus is not eligible for a Leapfrog designation because it doesn’t provide intensive care services, Swedish/Ballard also scored in the top 10 percent of all Leapfrog hospitals for the second year in a row.

The Leapfrog Group is a coalition of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage founded a decade ago to work for improvements in health care safety, quality and affordability. The annual survey is the only voluntary effort of its kind. To learn more, read our news release or visit www.leapfroggroup.org.

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