What does Trump’s Presidency mean for the future of Healthcare?

The United States – and the entire world, really – is finally catching its breath after an election that unexpectedly, and decidedly, ushered Donald Trump to the Presidency.

Few predicted Donald Trump’s upset over Hillary Clinton. The fact is that the Republican won, and on January 20th he will assume the Presidency.

What this means for the nation isn’t yet entirely clear, but industries around the globes are buzzing with ‘what ifs?’ and preparing for change.

Writing for econsultancy, Patricio Robles considers the implications of Trump’s proposed corporate tax reforms and reduced regulation for the tech and media industry; we’ve seen reports about the impact on everything from defense and international trade to NASA and even solar stocks. A glimpse of Google when searching, “How will a Trump Presidency affect…” shows the range of concern.

Trump Search engine results page

Source: Google

Early appearances suggest Trump has already backtracked on some of his campaign promises while simultaneously appointing Cabinet members whose records may contradict that backtracking. Despite sometimes unclear messaging that was a hallmark of his campaign, it’s very likely that some of his promises will now come to fruition.

As many industries are still unclear exactly what a Trump presidency means for them, the value of communicating change to employees will be key to overcome the risk associated with uncertainty. We focus on the healthcare industry as a major player facing change in light of the election result.

Trump and the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act, known widely as Obamacare, has been on the lips of every pundit and analyst since Trump’s victory.

During his campaign, Trump spoke at length of the Affordable Care Act and promised to repeal and replace it on his first day in office. Since his election, his tone has softened.

In his 60 Minutes interview this past Sunday, Trump told interviewer Lesley Stahl that he intends to keep portions of the ACA intact, specifically coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. He also promised that repealing and replacing the ACA would not open a window of time in which millions of Americans would find themselves uninsured.

Looking at the specifics of the Republicans’ options for a full or partial repeal of the ACA reveals much about how healthcare coverage may look in the coming years.

Managed Health Executive, a website for healthcare news and commentary recently interviewed six healthcare executives and policy experts on what the industry can expect under a Trump Presidency. Don Hall, principal at Delta Sigma LLC and Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor, was quoted as saying,

“House Republicans will repeal Obamacare on Day 1 of Trump’s presidency – how could they not! – but everyone understands that replacing it is far tougher. Republicans may well tear each other apart trying to decide whether and, if so, how to replace the ACA.”

This gets at the heart of the issues surrounding the ACA. The Republicans, especially Trump, have made significant promises surrounding healthcare. It’s become an issue central to their platform, and at this point they stand to lose votes if they back off completely.

As is pointed out on the website FierceHealthcare, a complete repeal of the ACA is not so simple.

“Repeal is good campaign language but it’s a 2,000-plus page bill and not everything can be repealed,” said Michael P. Strazzella, practice group leader, Federal Government Relations for Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney’s District of Columbia office.

Moreover, a complete repeal would leave an estimated 20 million people uninsured.

Health insurance stats US

What is far more likely is that a number of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are altered in ways that Republican leaders, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, have been advocating for years. These changes would allow Republicans to demonstrate that they took action on those provisions of the ACA they felt to be dangerous without the federal government being responsible for anyone losing insurance.

What can hospitals and other healthcare organizations expect?

In terms of changes to the Affordable Care Act, we do have some early indication of what Republicans will push through.

Paul Ryan has long been in favor of block grants to states replacing federal funding for Medicaid. This means that individual states would decide how much funding they choose to allocate to Medicaid, likely along with other social programs.

Employer mandates will also likely disappear, and individual mandates could be replaced with pricing incentives. With Medicaid coverage likely to decline and employers no longer required to insure their workers, some people will be without coverage.

The fewer people who have insurance, the fewer people there will be seeking treatment. This means healthcare organizations, especially hospitals, are likely to lose income. For an industry that is already experiencing financial hardships, that’s a troubling prospect. And with healthcare stocks down in the wake of the election, we can see that worry manifested.

Some of Trump’s other policies could provide a degree of solace – regulations are likely to be relaxed across industries, and tax cuts for businesses are on the horizon. All of this lessens the costs of operation, but is it enough to offset the hit healthcare may take?

Strong words for uncertain times

In the end, none of this is written in stone. There is no way to know for sure what will happen to the Affordable Care Act, or any other legislation that directly impacts the healthcare industry. However, we can be certain that change is on the horizon, in one form or another.

Now is more important a time than ever for healthcare organizations to communicate with their employees. Questions are sure to arise about policies, the future of the business, and especially about the delivery of patient care.

A recent survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that 66% of healthcare organizations plan to enter into a strategic partnership over the next year to deal with financial and regulatory concerns, and an 27% are planning for domestic mergers and acquisitions.

It’s not easy to say exactly how the new political climate will affect those numbers, but one thing that’s for certain is that upheaval was already prevalent and is likely to continue.

How managers and executives communicate with their staff makes a huge difference in whether a transition goes smoothly or proves fatal to a business.

Good communication encompasses many things. The delivery of news must be well timed, and executives need to avoid both sitting on important information and responding before they have proper details. They need to determine the correct medium, tone, and delivery mechanism for news. Most importantly, they need to ensure that communication is a two-way street and that employees have all their questions answered and concerns addressed.

In a survey Interact recently conducted, we found that 69% of organizations deliver news through top-down a chain of managers. 24% make announcements “town hall” style, and 7% utilize their company intranet for this occasion.

Regardless of the channel healthcare organizations choose to deliver news, it must be done carefully. 74% of healthcare CEOs say that top talent in their industry prefers to work at a place where they feel they are having a positive impact on society.

We know that the future is uncertain. We know that healthcare is going to change. What we need now are strong communicators to stand as rocks in their organizations and provide employees with the answers they need in uncertain times.