Parts of Obama's Healthcare Legacy Will Likely Continue Under Trump

President-elect cites popular provisions he'd like to keep

As the dust settles after the presidential election, it appears that Donald Trump is already softening some of his positions, especially his position on Obamacare. Media outlets have speculated that President Obama pushed hard for the continuance of his signature healthcare program when he met with Trump at the White House following the election.

During the presidential campaign, Trump disparaged the Affordable Care Act and called for its repeal, although he didn't spell out what he would put in its place. A wholesale repeal of the ACA could leave as many as 22 million people without health insurance--a prospect that industry insiders consider unlikely.

Healthcare attorney Michael P. Strazzella told FierceHealthcare that Trump will focus on the ACA on the first day of his presidency, but that he doesn't expect anything dramatic to happen immediately. (Strazzella is co-head of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney's District of Columbia office.)

"Repeal is good campaign language, but it's a 2,000-plus page bill and not everything can be repealed," Strazzella pointed out. To actually repeal all of Obamacare would require a 60-vote Senate supermajority, which Trump could not get unless some Democrats crossed party lines.
Other factors to consider:

  • The Republican Party is far from united under Trump, whom some GOP leaders have distanced themselves from, so the new president may not be able to count on the party's backing his every move.
  • Republicans may be wary of taking away well-liked provisions of Obamacare, especially if that doesn't play well with their constituencies.
  • The ACA's mandate that patients must not be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions is very popular with voters, as is the act's provision for young people to be kept on their parents' insurance plans till age 26.*

What other aspects of healthcare might change under the Trump presidency? The future of pilot programs such as the Accountable Care Organizations under the Medicare Shared Savings Programs--like so many other Obama administration healthcare provisions--is murky. But many in the healthcare industry maintain that value-based care is here to stay. 

The credit ratings and research company Fitch Ratings issued this prediction: "The shift toward linking pricing to patient outcomes will continue as patients and health insurers grapple with the growing burden of healthcare costs over the longer term." 

*UPDATE: Trump recently told "60 Minutes" that he is in favor of keeping at least two provisions of Obamacare: the requirement that insurance companies accept patients with pre-existing conditions, and the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they reach the age of 26. He also signaled that he would not end Obamacare without having some other program in place.

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