Policy and Politics Affecting Physicians Heading Into 2020

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Regardless of what side of the political aisle you find yourself, it isn’t hard to argue that legislative policies and politics have created a sea change in the healthcare landscape over the past decade.  Now, as we stand on the doorstep to 2020, it is safe to assume that more legislation, driven by politics, will continue being a catalyst for change in the future.  For now, with our sights clearly set on the New Year ahead, let’s examine some of the policies and politics that will be affecting physicians and healthcare in general.

Will Congress pass legislation to address the impending physician shortage?

Yogi Berra once famously said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” When Yogi uttered those words, he was referring to Mantle and Maris hitting back to back home runs, but today it could be attributed to legislation that is stalled in Congress for the third time since 2013.  The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act was introduced in the House and Senate in 2013, 2017, and again in 2019, but has yet to advance any further.  The current iterations of the bill (S.348/H.R. 1763) have received bi-partisan support and are both designed to increase the number of residency positions eligible for graduate medical education payments under Medicare for qualifying hospitals.  Over five years, this legislation would increase the current number of slots by 15,000 and is strongly supported by the American Hospital Association.  Considering the toxic partisanship that currently exists in both houses of Congress, it will be interesting to see if these bills are taken up at some point, once the legislative session resumes after the holiday break.  At a minimum, it might show the voting public that things can get done in Washington.

How much risk does value-based care pose to providers?

The ongoing transition from volume-based to value-based care has been slowly building throughout the past decade, arguably with no consensus best-practice models to emulate. A Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) report states that in the near-term, “providers will increasingly face both upside and downside financial risk in their arrangements with health plans.”

Another challenge that poses a risk for physicians and providers, in general, is how unsettled the variation of payment models still are, as they continue to be reformed.  As both Medicare and commercial payers keep payment models in flux, physicians, hospitals, and health plans are going to be experiencing greater shared risk.

How is consumerism affecting physician care?

While it may have taken longer than in other industries, there is no questioning the impact that consumerism is now having on the healthcare industry.  Much of the impetus for consumer-driven change grew out of the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the creation of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), tasked with studying new models and expenditure reductions. Today, consumers have more healthcare choices than at any other time in history.  From choosing a health plan that best suits their needs to making choices on when and where to seek care.  Consumerism within healthcare is only going to increase, and it is forcing a significant change in the way healthcare is marketed, transparency and structure in the cost for services, and convenience offerings to match patient lifestyle.  All of this places inherent pressure on the physician who is providing care, as the power of the consumer affords the patient leverage and options that may not have existed in the past.

How much will the 2020 election impact physicians?

While it is not in the interests of this space to delve too deeply into the political arena, it is important to look at how the 2020 election may impact physicians.  According to a wide-ranging report on the top health issues of 2020 by PwC Health Research Institute (HRI), it is unlikely that the outcome of the election is going to bring about a massive change in the healthcare industry.  Instead, no matter which party wins, expect regulatory changes and other lesser impactful legislative changes.

Things to be on the lookout for include Medicare Part D reform, drug pricing reform to include transparency and possible linkage to overseas pricing, and additional Medicaid reforms.  One thing that won’t change in 2020 is increased healthcare spending.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are projecting that US healthcare spending will increase from $3.8 trillion in 2019 to at least $4 trillion in 2020.

Although it is difficult to project how much change will be driven by the election, healthcare will be a topic throughout the 2020 cycle as a recent survey by HRI indicated that 71% of adult Americans of both parties are voting for a candidate based on the stated healthcare policies or ideas.

If you are searching for an opportunity that can provide you with more stability in this unsettled healthcare landscape, contact Jackson Physician Search today and let our industry professionals help find your perfect practice setting.

 

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