3 health reforms likely to continue beyond an ACA repeal

White House
The New York Times has identified three healthcare industry trends and reforms that should survive a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

A repeal of the Affordable Care Act looms large as President Barack Obama’s time in office winds down, but even a rollback of the healthcare law is unlikely to curb all of the momentum to innovate care delivery and the patient experience.

The ACA ensured that millions of previously uninsured Americans received healthcare coverage, but the Obama administration also pushed for payment reform, a focus on preventive medicine and quality improvements, according to an article from The New York Times, and many of those initiatives are likely to continue.

Here are three healthcare industry trends and reforms that should survive a repeal of the ACA, according to the publication:

A focus on early intervention and community health: The White House under Obama has pushed for greater emphasis on the social determinants of health and has used grants to encourage providers to identify Medicare or Medicaid patients that may have unmet needs, according to the article. Hospital and ER “super-users” are a significant burden on the health system, and many have unmet complex social needs. The health law also pushes providers to meet quality benchmarks, and patients with complex social needs may make those goals harder to reach, according to the article. However, efforts to improve community health are likely to remain even if the law is repealed, the NYT reports.

Alternative payment models: Under the ACA, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has pushed for payment reform, such as bundled payments for joint replacement surgeries. Though some providers are skeptical about the long-term benefits of some new payment models, according the article, the momentum away from fee-for-service care is unlikely to die with a repeal of the ACA. Industry organizations have called for President-elect Donald Trump to back value-based care, and it’s likely that the transition will continue under his administration.

Emphasis on care coordination: The healthcare law encourages team-based care and better coordination among physicians and other outside agencies that may connect patients to social services. This includes ensuring that patients are connected to primary care at discharge, as patients who most often make repeat hospital visits and incur unneeded costs may have limited access to primary care physicians. One example of success, according to the article, is at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, which sees 12% fewer inpatients than it did in 2013 thanks in part to such initiatives.