It is 2017 and we have a one party-controlled Federal government coming into power in Washington DC. We heard a lot during the presidential campaign and post-campaign about changes that may be coming to our health care system and the potential repeal or revision of significant health care reform policies .
The Republican controlled congress is already working hard on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is clear they feel they have to deliver on campaign promises and party positions. What is unclear, however, is whether or not replacement legislation will accompany the repeal or follow shortly thereafter. Many health care insiders are concerned that a repeal without a well-designed replacement will create significant disruption. The American Medical Association (AMA) recently released an open letter to congressional leaders asking them to ensure that an appropriate replacement policy is in place before repeal efforts are concluded.
The AMA said in its letter “…we believe that before any action is taken through reconciliation or other means that would potentially alter coverage, policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies. Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform.”
As of today, it still is not clear what ultimately will occur with an ACA repeal effort. Health care stakeholders can hope for a replacement package but should be preparing for disruption if that package never materializes.
In addition to the repeal effort, Congress has also been working on an attempt to rollback or completely strike out health care (and other) regulatory enactments by the outgoing administration. The House recently passed H.R. 21 – The Midnight Rules Relief Act- which is designed to allow Congress to repeal regulations issued by the outgoing administration in the last half of 2016. There are a number of health care related regulations submitted to Congress after June 13, 2016 that could be affected if H.R. 21 is enacted and Congress uses that authority.
These two major policy movements are only part of what is likely to be a significant effort by the incoming Congress and Administration to reshape health care reform and public health care programs. As a result, investors, lenders, providers, insurers, patients, i.e. all of the stakeholders in our health care system, need to listen and watch closely to the developments in Congress and in our Federal health care regulatory agencies in order to prepared for what may be significant change. Disruption and change can often bring opportunity, but they usually only bring opportunity to those who really understand which way the wind is blowing.