Washburn University discuss health care, insurance impacts due to COVID

Washburn President, Dr. Jerry Farley, attends last breakfast meeting as president
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Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:36 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Washburn University hosted a “Wake Up with Washburn” breakfast meeting Thursday, September 29, focused on the changes made to the health-care industry and insurance following the COVID pandemic.

Washburn University professionals gathered to learn more about the changes in insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and the rising popularity of telehealth appointments.

Ann Shelton, the vice president of financing for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, was a speaker at the meeting. She says that a couple of things have noticeably changed: the use of telehealth and participants seeking Medicare advantage.

”One of the things were are seeing a lot of is a growth in Medicare advantage and they are anticipating that by 2030 the majority of our Medicare eligible participants will be enrolled in Medicare advantage plans,” according to Shelton. “So, the message I really want to get out there is to make sure that these individuals speak to somebody who is knowledgeable on the different Medicare products that are available so, they make sure that they picked the right one for them.”

Shelton further said that the use of telehealth was beneficial during the pandemic, but she does not anticipate that changing at the moment.

“One of the things we really noticed with COVID is that it accelerated the use of telehealth, where telehealth used to be pretty much a nice to have service provided by the medical community, it became a necessity overnight,” said Shelton. “So, we are seeing a big growth in the use of telehealth services, and we anticipate that to continue even with COVID, getting to be more of a norm.”

Another topic mentioned at the breakfast meeting is addressing reimbursements for telehealth services. According to Shelton, the cost of telehealth would most likely have to increase.

“Because telehealth has increased, there was a need to address the reimbursement for telehealth services in comparison to the in office,” said Shelton. “And so, even though there might be a slight differential for some insurance companies, in regards to, those two reimbursement methods -- the cost is going to have to increase a little bit. Just to keep providers stabilized in providing services to their members.”

Washburn’s longest serving president, Dr. Jerry Farley, spoke at the conference as well. He officially retires on Friday, September 30, and 13 NEWS asked him what he thought of his time at Washburn.

“I love every minute of it,” Dr. Farley said. “I love coming into the campus every morning, even during the virus, I came to the campus every morning and it is fun to meet people on campus. It is fun to be around the students. We got smart people here on campus, a lot of faculty members that are really smart people doing a great job. So, that is what I am going to miss. Everyone will miss the people you work with, your colleges, and all of that when you change jobs, but all the environment here on campus... It is something that is going to be really special.”

Back in August, Washburn University announced that Dr. Farley will have a statue created in his honor following his departure.

He said he hopes that if anyone who sees his statue at the Washburn campus and doesn’t know anything about him, would think he had done something for Washburn University.