What does a new healthcare plan mean for your patients?

When President Donald Trump was on the campaign trail, he made a promise that he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Upon being elected, this pledge has become a very real possibility that could impact millions of people across the nation. As a healthcare provider, you will likely encounter a number of questions from your patients, and there are a few critical things that you should know:

1. The new bill was pulled

Many patients are worried a new bill would impact their coverage, and the concern only grew when the American Health Care Act of 2017 was released publicly on March 6. After careful examination by the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, it was found that 14 million people would be uninsured by next year if the bill passed, CNN reported. By 2026, that number would skyrocket to 52 million people, compared to the 28 million under the ACA.

White House officials, including the Health and Human Services Secretary disagreed with the results, but the report was enough to get Congress members talking and to spark outrage across the nation. The bill was withdrawn after Republicans failed to gain sufficient support to pass it.

The AHCA was pulled before an official vote, noting lack of support.

2. Next steps are uncertain

President Trump admitted that healthcare was complicated, and with the failure of the AHCA, the next steps are unclear. According to USA Today, the administration is ending the repeal effort and will be waiting for Obamacare to collapse in order to garner Democrat support to "make one beautiful deal for the people." Due to this uncertainty, many insurers are likely to quit markets or raise premiums and deductibles, limiting affordability.

Unfortunately, patients can't wait for their insurance to run out and need to receive proper care. Healthcare institutions should make themselves as available as possible or direct people to professionals that can provide assistance.

"It will be integral to watch what features the bill entails."

3. Watch for bill features

The features within the AHCA were extremely controversial, bolstering the expense to enact the plan while lowering the overall coverage. AHCA would have eliminated the insurance mandate, cut Medicaid spending, instituted age-adjusted tax credits and provided significant benefits for high-income earners, The Washington Post reported. The AHCA also would have stripped out the essential benefits in areas such as mental health, maternity care and dental and vision for kids.

If a new plan emerges, it will be integral for patients and healthcare providers alike to watch what features the bill entails as well as how it impacts them. Would it affect a doctor's ability to give quality treatment? Would patients be able to afford their coverage under the new plan? These are critical questions that must be addressed for each individual the healthcare industry serves.

As we move from the AHCA's big loss, it will be critically important to continue delivering quality support and care to patients. Healthcare providers should be available to answer critical questions and help patients as effectively as possible. With uncertainty on the horizon, watch how federal leaders respond to any new features in future plans.