Physician Practice

ACA repeal would put more pressure on practices

Physician Practice Insider, February 21, 2017

While most analysts agree that any substantial changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are unlikely this year, even minor changes to the ACA could result in millions of newly insured people losing insurance, and millions of fewer new-patient office visits in 2018 and beyond. And those changes could come at a time when physicians are struggling with escalating costs and flat reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.

To date, more than 20 million previously uninsured U.S. residents have acquired healthcare coverage through Medicaid expansion or with the help of federal subsidies. And while it’s too early to tell how far President Donald Trump will go regarding his campaign promises to dismantle the healthcare law, any effort is likely to leave a good chunk of those newly insured people without coverage. A study released January 17 by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 18 million people will lose their health insurance if the ACA is repealed without a replacement plan.

While a repeal-without-replacement strategy is unlikely, any changes to healthcare reform could affect access to care for patients and the type of care they need.

“It could really hurt patients who lose insurance completely or if their coverage is weakened to take away coverage of preventive care,” says John Meigs Jr., MD, a family physician in Centreville, Alabama, who has been in practice for more than 30 years.

Concerns about patients losing coverage are cropping up at a time when the cost of operating a medical practice is increasing and reimbursement rates are flat or even decreasing for some practices. These trends are putting more stress on physicians, particularly those in small and solo practices.

This article was originally published in Physician Practice Perspectives. Subscribers can read the full article in the February 2017 issue.

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