In January, industry heavy hitters joined at the Forsgate Country Club to discuss the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. Topics on the table ranged from private equity to repealing the Affordable Care Act and whether small practices are dying out in favor of consolidation. Here are some expert takes on these subjects:
On the ACA repeal
No one is really sure if the ACA can simply cease to exist or how that will affect consumers, providers and employers. Joseph Gorrell of Brach Eichler noted the ACA is not just about insurance; the federal government has adopted many important innovations under the ACA, such as bundled payment care improvement plans and accountable care organizations, that he doubts will simply go away.
Triton Benefits & HR Solutions' CEO and President Steve Rosenthal shared that both political parties want to reduce health spending, and that paying attention to addressing this need while managing consumerism expectations is key in moving forward.
"One of the things we've seen, the president is looking to cut costs," Rosenthal told the source. "Republicans and Democrats both agree that health spending accounts are the way to go."
Rosenthal's point was echoed in the President's speech to congress on Feb. 28. During the address, Trump emphasized creating a system that offered more choices for consumers and healthcare providers at a lower cost. The administration's stance is that by making healthcare affordable, it will be more accessible.
"We should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts – but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government," Trump said in his statement.
"The ACA does not promote private equity."
Private equity in the event of a repeal
The ACA is not a healthy breeding ground for private equity, as it prevents insurance providers from offering plans between states. This is something President Trump highlighted in his address, noting that healthcare reform should provide a way to maintain coverage across state lines. Michael Greenwald of Friedman LLP shared that private equity may help improve healthcare costs. This is possible as multiple physician groups come together across state lines to reduce costs while providing quality care and freeing up excess financial burdens.
Michael Maron of Holy Name Medical Center disagreed and thought mergers do not promote cost management or quality improvement. Instead, he believes private equity promotes leveraging for better rates to get an improved return.
On another note, Rosenthal highlighted how millennials are affecting insurance and, specifically, private equity.
"There's a new buyer in town, who's called the millennial. Let's get as many of them into this pool as possible because, let's face it, it's their premiums that pay for the older claims," Rosenthal said. "Right now, there are too many loopholes in the system."
The demise of small practice
In an effort to cut costs for practices and patients, many physicians are consolidating and joining with others. NJBIZ asked the panel what they thought would happen if the ACA is not largely altered. Gorrell mentioned that doctors joining forces and practices will continue, and Tim Hodges of CareOne agreed, noting that it's difficult to stay up to date on health tech as a solo practitioner.
On a final note, Gorrell mentioned that the number of students entering medical school continues to be high, which will contribute to the restructuring of the healthcare field no matter what occurs with the ACA. Rosenthal noted that individuals should invest in health savings accounts and take care of themselves by eating well and going to the gym as this will be beneficial to everyone.
Despite the wide range of options, it's clear healthcare continues to be an important topic for Americans in general and industry professionals alike.