Many of you may be wondering what will happen with federal legislation to either repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act. And we’re equally curious when it will happen. Many people have told me, “Surely, by the fall we will have some legislative fix around repeal or replace.” I don’t think that’s very likely. In fact, I don’t think it’s even very likely to happen in this calendar year. There are too many special interests and not enough working across party lines to reach consensus or alignment around the core issues impacting health care. The current discussion has essentially focused only on health care coverage – which is critical, but it hasn’t even touched the areas of changing how we provide health care, how we pay for care, the supply of health care professionals, and the innovative part of health care that we need as we move into this new health care environment. We have seen lots of talk but, as of yet, no real movement over the last couple of months. So, for now the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.
It’s anyone’s guess as to whether the gridlock in Washington will be resolved any time in the near future. For this reason, we must not allow inertia to set in. We have a broken health care system and we can’t expect that any one federal or state policy will fix it. There is so much uncertainty in all sectors of health care that you can almost sense the inertia beginning. We can’t let that happen: we need to continue to push and innovate transparency in the system around quality and cost; we need to continue to support and fund innovation; we need to continue to pilot and experiment with different payment models; and ultimately, we need to continue to push for the new health care system of the 21st century.
It’s hard work, but those of us in the trenches must roll up our sleeves and identify new partners to align with in order to drive toward a new agenda for health care. We must support our colleagues and providers on the ground in their day-to-day efforts to create a higher quality, more efficient system and walk hand-in-hand with them in a spirit of experimentation. We can’t go backward: we need to continue to look forward in our vision of how health care can and should look. We’re the torch bearers and we must continue to carry the torch forward.