In a November 14, 2016 Forbes article entitled, “Under Trump, Americans Can Finally Put ObamaCare Behind Us,” Sally Pipes wrote, “ObamaCare in a full-on ‘death spiral,’ voters were clearly in no mood for Clinton’s plan to ‘build on’ the president’s healthcare law. Instead, they chose a president who has said that his first order of business following President Trump’s inauguration on January 20, will be to ‘ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of ObamaCare.’” Notwithstanding Ms. Pipes confidence in a full repeal, in a Wall Street Journal article dated November 11, 2016, “Donald Trump, in Exclusive Interview, Tells WSJ He Is Willing to Keep Parts of Obama Health Law” by Monica Langley and Gerard Baker, Mr. President-elect Donald Trump said that he favors keeping the ObamaCare provisions which prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of existing conditions and which allows parents to provide additional years of coverage for children on their insurance policies. “I like those very much,” Mr. Trump is reported as saying.
So now the age-old question, “will he or won’t he.” Ms. Pipes certainly believes that President-elect Trump will request a full repeal of ObamaCare. Assuming he does call for a full repeal, what will President-elect Trump put in its place? Will it be “A Better Way,” the healthcare plan issued by House Republicans on June 22, 2016? Will it be something completely different? Interestingly, the Trump transition website includes references to healthcare positions that were never espoused by President-elect Trump during the campaign. For example, the first two lines in a set of bullet points included in the website say that the Trump administration will protect healthcare workers from being required to perform services that violate their religious or moral beliefs and that the Trump administration will “protect innocent human life from conception to natural death.” Neither points figured among the campaign’s healthcare positions. As a result, it is fair to wonder if President-elect Trump will amend, repeal, or replace Obamacare, or whether he will do something entirely different.
Since the 2016 Elections have shown that even the most reliable crystal balls are fundamentally unreliable, we are not going to try to predict the unpredictable. However, over the course of the next few weeks, we will present a series of blog posts we are calling, “Very Opaque to Slightly Transparent: Shedding Light on the Future of Healthcare.” The series will look at healthcare before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how history can help foretell the future of healthcare for both providers and patients. In addition, the series will discuss whether providers are best advised to continue their active pursuit of ACA-related strategic initiatives (physician integration strategies; risk-based contracting; the development of ACOs and other new provider structures, etc.), or whether a “time out” is warranted until the 2016 Election dust has settled.