One of President Donald Trump’s big rally cries during his campaign was that he was going to get rid of Obamacare, and the new president seems to be getting his wish. On March 6, House Republicans released legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with its American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Further reading: The complicated puzzle of moving past Obamacare
The new bill looks to change how healthcare is financed for people who do not have insurance through their employer, and would eliminate the mandate requiring all Americans to carry health insurance.
“Primary care physicians may suffer the most as people covered through these ‘bare bones,’ high-deductible plans or who are left uninsured devalue paying for ‘healthy’ or preventive care and instead feel they must wait until they get very sick or injured to spend their hard-earned dollars on health care,” says Timothy Hoff, a professor of healthcare policy at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, at Northeastern University in Boston. “As Medicaid expansion also grinds to a halt through the ACA repeal bill, doctors working in inner-city and rural areas particularly will be faced with having to say goodbye to existing patients with whom they have established relationships.”
Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm, a national physician search firm based in Dallas, Texas, notes it’s difficult to pinpoint what the AHCA’s impact will be on physicians, as there are still many questions and key pieces of information that remain unclear.
“One of the most important uncertainties is how the AHCA legislation would impact the quantity of people who are covered with healthcare insurance,” he says. “Not only is this important from the patients’ perspective obviously, but this in turn could impact physicians in terms of their patient load and patient mix, as well as impacting their reimbursements.
“Many healthcare analysts and experts have determined that the AHCA would decrease the amount of Americans covered by health insurance,” he continues. “If that is the case, that could also cause a shift in patient loads from primary care back to emergency rooms.