SAN FRANCSICO – The J.P. Morgan 29th Annual Healthcare Conference was held at the Westin St. Francis this week (Jan. 10-13, 2011). This four-day healthcare industry investor event hosted about 350 company presentations, an increase from 338 last year. Compared to last year’s 7,250 attendees, this year’s event brought in about 8,700 registered attendees. This increase suggests that investors are more optimistic about healthcare companies in 2011.
I heard from some attendees that suggested that perhaps more than 30,000 healthcare and investment industry professionals gathered throughout San Francisco this week as a direct result of the J.P. Morgan event.
This year’s event continued its traditional approach of hosting presentations of a broad mix of small-cap to large-cap healthcare companies from across multiple sectors. In addition, the conference this year included presentations from 22 not- for-profit organizations and 17 healthcare companies from China.
The conference included an interesting luncheon talk on Monday from Nancy-Ann DeParle. She is Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Heath Reform. Her talk provided an information update on the Affordable Care Act that was enacted in 2010. She spoke to an audience of about 1,500-2,000.
While her talk covered familiar themes about healthcare policy that was made in 2010, such as how we can lower costs, how to lower waste, how to change the delivery system, the high cost of US healthcare and so on, she tended to zero in on the small business and individual healthcare insurance market and the impact on entrepreneurial companies. She said that she sees a failed healthcare insurance market for small businesses and individuals. She said that the reality of “job lock” stifles innovation. That is, people cannot move to new jobs or to startup new innovative companies without the fear of healthcare insurance loss.
She spoke about the ‘Patients Bill of Rights’ that include consumer protections; the CMS Innovation Center which would be helpful to entrepreneurs; and the small business tax credits among other comments.
DeParle pointed out that there is a lot of misinformation going around the new healthcare law. She said that the Affordable Care Act does not set prices, it does not disturb the doctor-patient relationship and there is no government take-over of healthcare. She brought attention to the new information website: HealthCare.gov. DeParle said that the opportunity for healthcare businesses is that is that there will be millions of new customers for health insurance, drug, medical device and other healthcare companies.