Health-Care Insiders Brace for Drastic Change1

By: Justin Menza for CNBC

One says it’s time to move on, one expects drastic changes. These were some of the opinions from health-care insiders after the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s health care overhaul.

Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, told CNBC it’s time to move beyond the politics and focus on making the health-care system work. He worries that if costs aren’t brought under control, Medicare will go bankrupt and U.S. companies will be less competitive.

“We just have to get [the health care system] so it’s cost competitive,” he said. “It’s not today. This bill does nothing for that. It just gives access.”

George added, “Health care of Americans is getting worse while the costs are going up.” He expects companies to continue to offer health insurance but they will be focused more on fitness and wellness programs to try to bring down costs.

James Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, told CNBC he’s happy rules on biosimilars have been preserved. “It means generics companies essentially will not be able to make biologics and get them approved by the FDA until 12 years after FDA approval,” Greenwood said.

“Without that we feared, there would be less of an incentive to invest in innovative products to begin with,” he said.

Ron Fontanetta, health care consultant at Towers Watson, told CNBC, “Health care has the potential of changing dramatically. Not just because of the regulatory efforts or this judicial ruling but because the private sector is taking many actions. “

Employers need a strategic plan, he said. “Most mid-sized and large employers will continue to sponsor health care,” he said. “Health care is such a visible benefit and many of them believe they can do a better job than public exchanges.”

The situation may be different for company retirees, and companies may move retirees to public exchanges over the next two to three years. “There are better deals for retirees likely to occur in the exchanges in the next couple of years than what they might see in an employer sponsored plan,” Fontanetta said.