Uncertainty Around Future of Affordable Care Act Strengthens Physician Associations

Three months into President Trump’s tenure, healthcare providers have obtained no clarity on the future of the ACA from the White House. Where rapid changes were promised, none have shown up, leaving the industry with baited breath.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly emphasized his goal to implement sweeping changes to the legislation that would cut down on benefits. The execution of that goal has proven difficult. The bill to repeal many aspects of the Affordable Care Act was pulled from consideration shortly before it was to be voted on in the House. It would have rolled back federal insurance standards, repealed tax penalties for people without health insurance, reduced subsidies for those purchasing private insurance, and set spending limits for Medicaid.

However, the bill failed to garner enough support from a broad spectrum of Republicans. For those who wanted Obamacare to be thoroughly eradicated, the bill did not reach far enough. More moderate conservatives could not get behind the legislation on account of millions of Americans who would lose healthcare coverage in 2024 as a result.

After the first attempt proved unsuccessful in March, conservatives’ recent efforts to drive forward an overhaul of the tax code have brought to light the complicated interplay between the two topics. For starters, the pulled bill would have repealed hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes that were part of the Affordable Care Act.

The President is now renewing his focus on the issue. And given that healthcare and taxation were both hot button issues for Trump during his campaign, it is unlikely that one will be able to advance meaningfully without the other.

Healthcare providers are left wondering. Despite the March defeat that signaled at least temporary stability, changes might be on the horizon after all. Operators of independent practices are particularly at risk, since complying with the ACA is a costly endeavor. Independent Physician Associations may benefit if they are able to incorporate more practices due to the looming uncertainty. The cost of compliance has been a boon to their business since the introduction of Obamacare; the latest developments could extend those benefits.

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