I've heard from a lot of physicians lately who are, let’s say, less than enamored with our new president’s first actions since occupying the White House and the uncertainty ahead.
It’s a kind of “medical limbo,” awaiting the first domino to fall: will it be the repeal of Obamacare … and the coming of whatever replaces it? Will it be new leadership at HHS or CMS revisiting Medicare reimbursement reform? Will it be major changes to Medicaid? Will it be something else entirely that will shift the way physicians treat their patients – for better or worse?
For physicians, this sort of uncertainty is business as usual. You never know when an innocuous-looking envelope will appear from a payer with some “important news regarding your contract” (i.e. “we’re paying you less starting today for the same thing you did yesterday”) or a Medicare memo announcing a major change in the program that you then have to decipher.
It’s part of the business of running a private practice. (And part of the reason more and more physicians are finding direct pay more attractive. See our cover story on page 14 for more information.)
And patients, fully aware of and confused by what’s going on in D.C., turn to the one source that knows everything about the future of medicine and the inner workings of insurance companies: physicians.
But this uncertainty comes with opportunity, one that physicians seem prepared to embrace.
Further reading: Replacing Obamacare not an easy path for new administration
Seven years ago, the same uncertainty accompanied passage of the Affordable Care Act. Physicians were cautiously optimistic about the new law, balancing fear of a mass patient influx due to greater insurance opportunities with excitement about possible better pay, especially in primary care.