Healthcare Reform in the Age of Trump: Where We Stand / by Joe Furia

You thought the last eight years saw rapid change in the healthcare industry? Just wait.

The incoming Trump administration promises continued transformation, but few details are clear following a presidential campaign in which serious discussion of healthcare policy was, shall we say, lacking.

With both the executive and legislative branches of federal government soon to be under GOP control, look for heightened focus on marketplace solutions, personal responsibility and fiscal austerity. Watchwords include “repeal-and-replace” for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and “block grants” for Medicaid. Price transparency … Medicare reform … tax credits … health savings accounts – each is likely to get time in the spotlight as part of a healthcare policy agenda, Trump-style.

During this time of uncertainty, we cannot know what lies ahead and how it may affect the patients, people and communities of Arizona. But it is important that you understand our guiding principles and how they will instruct the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) in our advocacy during the coming months.

Above all else, we believe that healthy hospitals are cornerstones of healthy communities. To that end, any system-wide reforms pursued at the federal or state level must emphasize community value, and they must prioritize people and patients. It is imperative that Arizonans maintain access to the right care, at the right time, and at the right place. Additionally, we believe that broad-based health coverage is critical to prevent the cycle of uninsured that harms individual health, threatens hospital bottom lines and generally increases costs for everyone.

The ACA is far from flawless, but any attempts to repeal the law outright should meet a few basic tests to ensure these principles are reflected. For example:

Does the repeal include a reasonable phase-down period so that patients and providers have time to adapt?
Is a replacement plan ready and able to account for the 21 million Americans and hundreds of thousands of Arizonans currently relying on the ACA?
Will a new law further the goal of achieving better care, better health and lower cost?
In addition, as part of the ACA, hospitals funded $155 billion worth of reductions in reimbursement rates for care as part of helping pay for increased coverage under the law. Any retreat from the ACA and its coverage mandates should include making hospitals “whole” by putting those dollars back into the reimbursement formulas.

The choices that will be made by the new Congress and Administration may impact healthcare in this country for a generation to come. As one of Arizona’s oldest and largest healthcare organization, AzHHA is already participating in discussions with our members and national partners – including the American Hospital Association – to make sure any reforms to healthcare are done for the right reasons, in the right way, and that they meet the needs of the patients, people, and communities in Arizona.