Throughout his campaign, candidate Donald Trump aimed a constant barrage of negative criticism launched toward the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The bottom line, according to candidate Trump, was the ACA would be “repealed and replaced.”
But President-elect Trump has been giving a different message. He’s open, he says, to keeping at least part of the law, though which parts he would jettison are still up in the air. No one really knows. What is clear, is that the incoming Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is no fan of the ACA. He led a House chamber dead set on repealing President Obama’s signature law … though the “replacing” part tended to get kicked down the road when anyone asked.
Now, the big question is, “What will happen after the inauguration?” Will Trump work with Congressional DEMs to tweak the law or will he let the REPs gut the program? No one seems to be able to see the answer to that question in their political crystal ball, and that uncertainty has proven to be a big problem for both the healthcare and insurance industries.
For six years now, that has been the law of the land, and the program has unfolded to the point that, according to some figures, tens of millions of additional people have insurance who wouldn’t otherwise. Meanwhile, folks who haven’t had insurance in years due to pre-existing conditions now have coverage. A total repeal would make all that go away … and it could be a massive expense for an industry just coming to grips, at least logistically, with the law. Now, they might have to “switch back” … and that’s only until Congress figures out what it really wants to do.
Will they open up the state restrictions on insurance service, allowing providers to offer coverage across state lines? Will they keep some provisions of the law and kill others? At this point, there are nothing but questions, and each of those questions triggers issues, questions, and challenges for both sides of the healthcare delivery industry in America.
And many in the industry say they are totally unprepared for any kind of shakeup. They don’t have a Plan B.
It’s that lack of preparation that terrifies consumers, more than anything. They don’t know if they will have insurance this time next year, and, if they do, what will it look like? Joe and Mary Sixpack can’t answer this question, and they shouldn’t have to. It’s up to the leadership to communicate clearly … and soon. Confusion on this narrative will only exacerbate the issue.