Submitted by Tristan Dorn
With the change in office from a Democratic Party to a Republican Party representative, the outlook of healthcare in the coming years is undoubtedly going to change. The Affordable Care Act, one of former President Obama’s most controversial legacies. President Trump has proposed a number of changes to the nation’s healthcare system, including a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Although we are unsure of President Trump’s timeline, he has clearly made it his goal to tackle the healthcare system as quickly as possible. Promptly following his inauguration, he signed an executive order against the aptly named Obamacare system. According to New York Times, the order “gave federal agencies wide latitude to change, delay or waive provisions of the law that they deemed overly costly for insurers, drug makers, doctors, patients or states.” Trump has made it clear that the changes he hopes to instill in his new healthcare plan will be intended to improve the access and quality of our healthcare system while simultaneously reducing the cost of care. Additionally, there are plans to change the parameters of Medicaid access and distribution. Along with these changes, it would not be out of line to predict changes in budgeting and an increase in the use of privatized healthcare components as a means to supplement the system. However, these possible proposals have yet to be seen as a formal proposal set forth by the legislative branch. Presumably, these matters will be addressed with the revised healthcare bill currently in the hands of the House of Representatives. Overall, the plan will undoubtedly instigate many changes. The Washington Post outlines that Trump plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act simultaneously. By keeping these actions close together on the timeline of change, the hope is that citizens are able to smoothly transition between the two systems, bypassing a period without insurance.
Further compounding the healthcare climate is access to care outside of the financial realm. The need for physicians and quality care in a wide area of specialties has long been a point of contention among experts and lay folk alike. According to CNN, “A new analysis commissioned by the Association of American Medical Colleges predicted a doctor deficit of 40,800 to 104,900 by 2030.” This is countered by other healthcare experts that claim there is no shortage of doctors. Rather, the physicians we do have are unevenly distributed throughout the nation and across various specialties. A consensus between both camps is clearly outlined by CNN, which states that “the problem of access is interpreted on one side as partly a lack of physicians; on the other, it is purely a systemic problem — one caused by inefficiency and waste, poor distribution of resources, a lack of transparency and the accumulation of unnecessary care and costs.”
The changes in the healthcare system are compounded by the integral problems that have been in place since long before the residency cap set in1997. Neither the pre-existing system established before Former President Obama’s passage of Affordable Care Act or the Affordable Care Act itself have been able to redistribute the medical care throughout the country or provide adequate numbers of doctors in critical fields. Many people disagree with the plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act because it will negatively impact many people’s access to care. However, the changes that will be established have yet to fully come to light. Today, March 20, 2017, the US House of Representatives will submit their changes to the current healthcare bill (CNBC). This early in his term, President Trump’s legacy in the healthcare system has yet to be determined. Let us hope that medical care will continue to be an important political issue, because it is clear we are a long way from finding a happy medium.