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John Twitty Appointed Chair of Mercy Health Springfield Communities Board of Directors

What do you hope to accomplish as board chair?

"Well, I think to continue to work with the outstanding professionals at Mercy to, you know, make sure that healthcare is, first off, available and of the highest quality.  I think those are the two really important pieces of any healthcare delivery organization--hopefully to do so at costs that are competitive and reasonable and affordable, and I say that even knowing that, you know, healthcare is more and  more expensive all of the time, but I hope that my experience and background added with the talents of those people that serve on the board and, of course, all of the  professionals that deliver the service grouped all together can help do those thing I mentioned."

And, in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on the healthcare overhaul, in what ways do you feel healthcare will change over the next few years in the U.S. and in Springfield?

"Well, I think Springfield will obviously be a microcosm of what happens across America.  Clearly, the Affordable Care Act is a landmark decision, and if it is fully implemented, and we all know that lots of things don't happen until 2014, but obviously the idea is that everyone will have insurance or some sort of coverage, and the idea is that through that mechanism and others we'll begin to bend the cost curve such that healthcare can remain affordable.  I think the challenge, of course, is  how do you get everybody under a plan?  How do you keep them out of the ERs?  Because I think we all know today that if somebody doesn't have coverage emergency rooms are the easiest place to go to get coverage, and folks are not gonna get turned away, so if they come to emergency rooms it's expensive care.  In many cases it is uncompensated care and that means that all the rest of us that actually pay for their insurance either directly or through a health insurance  product, end up paying higher than they otherwise would.  So, the idea, of course, is that through these various mechanisms we'll begin to change that delivery mechanism and change the cost.  I think time will tell whether that happens.  It's clearly an incredibly large challenge for every healthcare provider."

How do you feel about being part of planning for the future of healthcare in Southwest Missouri?

"Well, I personally feel very good about it.  Obviously, my background at City Utilities I think will be of some assistance.  Any organization like Mercy, like City Utilities has to plan far out into the future because decisions that you make don't get implemented quickly, and there's a lot of effort that has to go into getting them implemented over time, so I think that experience will help, and clearly for all healthcare providers--Mercy certainly included--you know, we have an enormous generational number of aging baby boomers coming at us, and sometimes people will ask me, 'well, why are you building this new building?' or 'why are you building this new surgery center?' or 'why are you adding this new wing?' or whatever it happens to be, and I say because the people that we serve are demanding that service, and that's going to continue for a number of years obviously as baby boomers get older, require more care, so that planning for what the number of people is that have to be served is gonna be critical, and I hope my background can add to that a little bit."