Are Physicians Part of Trump’s 2017 “America First” Strategy… or Not?
A new year, a new administration, and new healthcare legislation all promise to be challenging for physicians, their staff, and their patients this coming year. No one is quite sure yet what’s in store with the Affordable Care Act, but we’re looking at changes that could affect the way our practices work profoundly. Again. We’ve also moved into the implementation of MIPS/MACRA and value-based payment systems as well as tumultuous insurance changes. It makes for unsettling territory and increased stress and work for physicians, especially those with a private practice.
Providing value-based care is something that doctors try to provide for their patients, but the changes from fee-for-service could prove to be a difficult adjustment for a small practice, even with Medicare’s partial participation. It certainly will be a balancing act to try to provide quality patient care while having to make hard decisions based on financial reasons, while wading through a sea of regulatory changes and the associated paperwork that will follow in trying to properly document provided care — all the while keeping the practice’s billing, payments and finances stable.
With sweeping changes in health insurance that shift more of the cost onto the patient, we’ll also have to contend with more difficulty in collecting balances from patients who simply cannot afford treatment, and are often sicker after trying to delay care and medication due to finances. The likelihood of this situation worsening seems to be evident as insurance companies continue to hike up premiums and employers shift the costs onto employees who have to stay healthy to work, but just can’t pay out enough to reach their lofty deductibles anymore.
It creates a difficult quandary. We want to provide good care, the patient wants to be healthy, and we need our practices to function well financially and generate a profit at the end of the day.
There is some hope that perhaps some health care reform coming will help to balance out the whirlwind, but in the meantime, the best thing we can do is develop a plan. Optimizing the way our practices are run from the inside is critical. EHR systems and proper billing services are a good start, along with optimization of time and patient management. Excellent communication, optimized record keeping and reporting will help to mitigate revenue loss in the short term, stick to compliance in the long term, and help you to provide quality care for your patients overall as we forge ahead and see what 2017 brings to medicine, and how we can best adapt to this new environment.[ssba]