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Social workers' roles in patient care expand under affordable care act
Date:2/27/2014

erapy. A former Massachusetts' Secretary of Health and Human Services, Baker identified the expansion of coverage, the creation of health exchanges and cuts in Medicare as the "three big pieces" of ACA that would offer challenges and opportunities for social workers.

For example, expanded coverage would make more people eligible for care and treatment, he said, but also create potential dilemmas for what services can be provided, and in which form. Given this scenario, Baker strongly endorsed an emphasis on team-based approaches to health care issues, with specifically defined roles for each health care professional involved, and with measurement of outcomes built into the system.

Social workers would be a vital part of such cross-disciplinary work, he said, because their training tends to prepare them for a team-based approach better in comparison to other professions. "If everyone has a role, and if everyone plays a role, good things happen. This is a tremendous opportunity for all of you."

Baker said social workers and other health care professionals must endeavor to change a model in which 50 percent of health care dollars are spent by a "reasonably healthy" 95 percent of the population, and the remaining 50 percent by a five percent who "are really sick and pinball all over the system." He urged social workers to consider new, seemingly out-of-the-box solutions for longstanding problems, and to seek viewpoints from outside their profession "people who don't see the elephant the same way you do."

Baker also said social workers should consider whether the culture of their particular organization or agency is attuned to problem-solving and team-based approaches. "Culture matters. Culture will crush strategy, always," he said.

His last piece of advice: "Trust your gut, but don't ignore data."

In his introduction to the panel discussion, McClain echoed Baker's call for social workers to assert themselves into he
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Contact: Ed Hayward
ed.hayward@bc.edu
617-552-4826
Boston College
Source:Eurekalert  

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