I know they say do not bring politics to work, and 99% of the time I absolutely do not. However, when you work in healthcare, politics has a large effect on your working environment. I attend several conferences a year where Seema Verma is one of the keynote speakers. Her boss is the President of the United States, so after an election like this, I can’t really get away from politics. The question is, now that Joe Biden has been tentatively named President-Elect (we cannot refer to him officially until all electoral votes have been cast on December 14th), what does that mean for our industry and healthcare in our country? The real answer is not as much as you might think.
Membership in ACOs has received bipartisan support since it was first designed in 2006 by Elliott Fisher. Given that most of what we do, now, in value-based care has grown as a result of the Obama administration bringing about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”), so it’s safe to say that value-based care won’t be scaled back in the next four years. I fully expect President-Elect Biden to go all-in with value-based care, and actually attempt to rectify some of the loose ends that were left over at the end of the Obama administration. I realize that there’s supposed to be a ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA in 2021, and with the appointment of Justice Amy Comey Barrett slanting the Supreme Court even further right, I still don’t see anything changing (even if Congress is still a Republican majority).
Based on his support of the ACA from his previous term, I expect President-Elect Joe Biden to attempt to expand the ACA. However, he will certainly run into the wall that is Congress rendering him virtually ineffective (I feel like that’s happened before). Therefore, any major reforms are likely to stall simply because of resistance within the rest of the government. However, you may see even more additions to the already expansive list of Alternative Payment Methods. That being said, I think everyone wants to wait and see how Direct Contracting works out first.
The reality is, it is not the election that’s going to have the biggest impact on our healthcare system. It’s the continued struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. President-Elect Biden’s number one priority as soon as he steps foot into the Oval Office is to get control of Coronavirus, get people to wear masks, get a vaccine ready for public dispersal, and get America back to normal. What you’re going to see afterward is probably a re-engaging with the World Health Organization and a complete top-to-bottom plan drawn out by healthcare professionals for how to handle a future pandemic (because there will be another one eventually).
Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) has been top-of-mind for the last few months, and you’re going to see that continue to expand. Both of those technologies will continue to expand the reach of value-based care, and you’ll also see interoperability really start to push forward. Thus, you could say it’s less policy and more market need that will drive any healthcare industry changes we see between 2021 and 2024. Transparency and drug prices may be another area that you’ll see President-Elect Biden attempt to put his stamp on healthcare during his administration. However, it should be noted that because his main focus is the pandemic, and a COVID vaccine is going to come from “Big Pharma,” drug prices will be a sensitive topic.
If you’re all for more access, more transparency, and a more communal approach to healthcare, then the truth is it doesn’t matter who won the election because the Trump administration hasn’t been bad for healthcare, either. In fact, the GOP has strongly believed in healthcare reform, and pricing is still a bipartisan issue. At the end of the day, though, while I consider myself an optimist, I know nothing happens quickly in government. I also know the bureaucratic challenges President-Elect Biden will face, similar to what his President faced from 2008-2016. Healthcare is always a political football of sorts, and there’s often more noise than results. To this point, value-based care has already proven successful, so nobody should expect it to start to fade away. If you’re a betting person, it’s time to double down because even if it’s slow going, it’s still an exciting time to be in healthcare.
- Contreras, B. (2020, September 16). The Transformation of Value-Based Care, its Future After COVID and the Election. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/the-transformation-of-value-based-care-its-future-after-covid-and-the-election
- MedTech Intelligence StaffInnovative Publishing. (2020, November 09). Election Day Topics: COVID-19 Surveillance, Value-Based Care, and Supply Chain Transparency. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.medtechintelligence.com/news_article/election-day-topics-covid-19-surveillance-value-based-care-and-supply-chain-transparency/
- PricewaterhouseCoopers. (2020, September). President-elect Joe Biden’s healthcare agenda: Building on the ACA, value-based care, and bringing down drug prices. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/health-industries/library/election-2020-biden-health-agenda.html
- Reed, T. (2020, November 03). The 3 likely issues that will top Congress’ to-do list next year regardless of who wins the election. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/practices/3-likely-issues-will-top-congress-to-do-list-next-year-regardless-who-wins-election
- Sauer, K. (2019, June 10). Readers React: Let’s not forget how Republicans blocked Obama’s agenda. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.mcall.com/opinion/readers-react/mc-opi-let-sauer-obama-republican-senate-block-legislation-20190610-pofcwevsg5awpitwvcsjsgx6ya-story.html