Healthcare Industry Stats & Updates: The Uncertainty of Reform

May 23, 2017

Healthcare Industry Stats & Updates: The Uncertainty of Reform

With information over the current federal deliberation on healthcare being portrayed in increasingly partisan perspectives, it can be difficult for many Americans to determine what is fact and what is fiction. The uncertainty may be frustrating, but it’s important to know that if any changes in your healthcare were to occur, it would happen gradually, allowing you to plan and adjust accordingly. To keep yourself informed on the industry, while U.S. lawmakers continue to work on the American Health Care Act, follow this link of important healthcare stats and updates.

How can healthcare reform affect CMS?

The contentious squabble over Medicare and Medicaid has been at the heart of reform proposals, as drastic changes to funding and regulations could affect both programs quite drastically. The AARP, a nonprofit interest group dedicated to improving elderly Americans’ quality of life, didn’t mince words when condemning the version of the AHCA that passed through the House of Representatives; they were quick to draw attention to the significant reduction in Medicare revenue that could speed up the demise of the program.

One of the potential effects of the bill would see Medicaid  in a position to lose as much as $880 billion in federal funding over the course of the next decade. This massive depletion of the program would place a worrisome burden on the Medicare program, and their 11 million recipients who are also eligible for Medicaid. The responsibility of covering costs of care for these dual eligibles, the sick and elderly, would fall to the states. While proponents of the healthcare bill suggested that the states would pick up this Medicaid burden, governors on both sides of the political spectrum have voiced apprehension about the cut in federal funding. Republican Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson went as far as to say that the situation would have to be “rectified” in the senate to ensure coverage of his residents while Ohio’s John Kasich, also a Republican governor, expressed concern about where the American Health Care Act would leave the country’s most vulnerable. Even with supporters of the bill, such as Hutchinson, stressing the need for the Senate to make significant changes, it appears highly unlikely that the proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will become law without a significant legislative battle.

Population Health:

The proposed cuts to Medicaid have undoubtedly been a major point of dissent, yet perhaps the biggest criticism is the sheer magnitude of Americans that will no longer retain coverage if the bill passes in its current form. Similar to the originally planned bill, which failed to pass in March, health advocates argue that coverage could become unaffordable or simply not possible for roughly 24 million Americans in the next decade. One of the major aims of population health management is to lower socioeconomic barriers to healthcare, and a drastic drop in the overall number of insured clearly runs contrary to the core concept. This far of a misstep would bring about exceedingly difficult challenges in ensuring quality care for groups currently being covered.

Like other advocacy groups, the AARP also points out that being able to charge the elderly up to five times the rate of younger Americans is a substantial change to the Affordable Care Act, which limited insurers to charging three times more than less risky, younger groups. Additionally, caps in annual or lifetime coverage could result in further pressure on lower income Americans, another issue that has become controversial in the wake of the recently passed bill.

Telemedicine and digital health:

Despite the debate over healthcare becoming more controversial, the industry is seeing dramatic breakthroughs and improvements thanks to the advances of telemedicine and digital systems. Since 2014, investments in digital health has rapidly increased as healthcare providers grapple with the possibility of considerable savings over the long haul. On the clinical side, one example include the rapid expansion of digital sensors that can sift data for patients and measure essential metrics like blood pressure. More interestingly, practical integration of digital health services in everyday life has created a more positive environment for new consumers, who are becoming more interested in digital products as a whole. Common household products like Amazon’s Echo can quickly read out instructions if someone is going through cardiac arrest and even offer a warning for a heart attack or stroke.

The bottom line:

The healthcare industry is rapidly advancing as a result of the ongoing digital revolution, making care more personalized and efficient, but the realities of healthcare reform are far from settled. Given that prominent Senate members have openly stated that they would like to scrap the House bill altogether and write their own, we won’t fully know how healthcare reform will affect the industry until the legislation is agreed upon in Washington. Even if much of the House bill does make it through the Senate and becomes law, the implementation will be slow, with many of the major changes not happening until 2020 or later.

To learn more about how healthcare reform and telemedicine might affect you, contact us for further information and details.

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