For those who thought things would settle down by now—nearly seven years after the ACA was signed into law—think again. It’s pretty clear that 2017 will be another tumultuous year, so we thought it would be a good idea to look ahead and tell you what’s you can expect for the year to come. There are too many changes to cover in a single article, so we’ll tackle a few at a time. In this three-part series, we’ll discuss the big 1) political developments, 2) product changes, and 3) practice management considerations for 2017. Let’s start off with the upcoming election and what it could mean for the health reform law.
EXPECT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
#1: A new President
Yep, this is a pretty big change, and it will certainly impact the legislative decisions that are made in 2017, as one candidate wants to expand the ACA while the other wants to repeal it. The good news is that it won’t have any impact on the plans we sell during the 2017 open enrollment period. Nonetheless, the election will impact the conversations we have with our current and prospective clients. A change in leadership naturally creates uncertainty, and uncertainty makes people hesitant to make decisions.
The way around this is to acknowledge people’s anxiety, but remind them they’re only making a one-year decision about their health coverage. There will be another open enrollment period toward the end of 2017, and if they need to do anything different based on the new president’s actions, you’ll be sure to let them know. This tells your clients that you’re not going anywhere, making it more likely they’ll be long-time customers, and your reassurance may be the encouragement they need to go ahead and purchase that new plan.
#2: A new Congress
Along with a new president, we’ll be getting a new House and Senate, and that, too, will have a major impact on the changes that may or may not happen in 2017. While the president may have a lot of big ideas, if congress doesn’t act on those ideas they never become law.
Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House, has his own thoughts about how to fix some of the issues that plague the health care industry. Some of his proposals, if they were to pass the House and Senate, would likely be embraced by President Trump but would almost certainly be vetoed by President Clinton. Of course, a landslide victory for Clinton in November could also change the current Republican majority in the House and Senate, which would make it easier for Clinton to expand the ACA or even move toward a public option and/or Medicare for All, two of Sanders’ ideas that she has begun to embrace.
#3: A new Supreme Court Justice
One of the biggest and most lasting decisions the next president will make is his or her Supreme Court nominee. Following Justice Scalia’s death earlier this year, President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland, but the Senate has yet to hold hearings, making it very unlikely that Judge Garland will be confirmed before the president leaves office. This means that the next president will have at least one nomination to the High Court and could possibly have several: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 years old; Anthony Kennedy is 80; and Stephen Breyer is 78.
When we consider the big health reform cases the Court has already decided, affirming both the individual mandate and the premium tax credits, and the fact that the challenge to the cost-sharing subsidies could find its way to the Supreme Court, the makeup of the Court is critically important. Of course, this will have far-reaching effects for our country outside of the health care decisions as well.