Game changer: Trump’s win puts affordable care in jeopardy

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

One of President-elect Donald Trump’s biggest challenges in the first days of his administration will be making healthcare more affordable for consumers and offering them plenty of choices for services and insurance, says a new report released moments after this morning’s final election results.

The report, released by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), is based on interviews with healthcare leaders, surveys of American consumers about healthcare policy issues, as well as an analysis of Trump’s proposals that he presented during campaign speeches and on his campaign website from July through November.

Free market levers

Industry experts told HRI that they viewed Trump as a “corporate chief executive”--an image he projected on the campaign trail.  As a result, they expect him to steer away from traditional regulatory process and “rely on free market levers,” such as price transparency for providers and open negotiations with pharmaceutical companies.

The approach may benefit consumers because they’ll have more tools to comparison shop.

“The refreshing part of it is he is bringing in completely new people and, presumably, they will re-evaluate everything that’s been done in terms of policies and building for the future,” Chip Kahn, president and chief executive of the Federation of American Hospitals, a District of Columbia-based association that represents for-profit health systems, said in the report.

Affordable Care Act

But one of the biggest concerns is what will happen to the Affordable Care Act, which Trump says he intends to repeal, leaving as many as 2 million Americans without healthcare insurance.

RELATED: Trump’s win raises more questions than answers for healthcare leaders

But the repeal of healthcare reform could create chaos within the healthcare system, which has spent the last six years implementing--and embracing--the law. Although employers initially complained about the administrative costs involved in implementing the ACA, the report notes they may have to spend more money on changing employer policies and data systems to implement laws meant to replace the ACA.

"Overall, Trump’s proposals present a new set of challenges and opportunities for an industry that already faces uncertainties over a burgeoning New Health Economy."

It’s also unclear if Trump intends to repeal all aspects of the ACA, such as popular provisions of coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to remain on their parent’s health plans until the age of 26.

Other worries related to the repeal: A possible end to revenue and tax credits to offset premium costs, the reversal of Medicaid expansion, and obstacles to the shift to value-based care.

Industry regulations

Indeed, Trump’s health proposals will “touch nearly every corner of the U.S. healthcare system,“ the report notes. And it’s still unclear whether his approach will give healthcare organizations an opportunity to operate without burdensome regulations or if he will have his administration take on health policy.

“Overall, Trump’s proposals present a new set of challenges and opportunities for an industry that already faces uncertainties over a burgeoning New Health Economy,” the HRI report concluded.