Healthcare in this country is a big question mark right now and as a physical therapist, I “live” healthcare everyday. So, of course, its on my mind right now.
Seven years ago, the ACA changed everything. I saw the value in these changes and and so did my patients. The newly enrolled were finally able to get medical care, including groups that had been previously denied, such as people with pre-existing conditions and mental illnesses. Birth control and mammograms were finally covered and young adults could stay on their parents plans until 26 years of age. As a therapist, I found that the appeals processes improved and insurance statements became more transparent for my patients. New Medicare guidelines and ICD 10 codes helped make the US more current with international standards of care.
The proposed changes under the GOP/Trumpcare plan have been tabled for now, but I cannot help but be concerned at how it will alter the healthcare landscape. I hope that any new proposal will address the needs of all Americans.
I am worried about my disabled patients, those with CP, MS or Post polio syndrome who rely on therapy services to maintain their current level of function. The massive cuts in Medicaid ($880 billion were proposed) will most certainly mean this most vulnerable population would be most at risk for losing coverage.
I am worried about my older patients in their late 50s and early 60s, who are just starting to have orthopedic issues and surgeries for the first time and may now be priced out of healthcare services by high premiums. And even if they can afford a plan, will it be comprehensive enough to cover physical therapy? Without proper rehab after surgery, will they rely more on opiate drugs, unlicensed professionals to treat them, or just suffer? Could it impact their ability to work or engage in meaningful activity?
I am worried about families that purchase their healthcare on the exchange. Two of my closest friends started their own businesses a few years ago when they realized they could afford good healthcare coverage for their families and not have to work for someone else. If small business entrepreneurs are the “American dream” then the projected rising cost of coverage over the next few years will be a big blow to these fledgling businesses.
Finally, I am worried about my own children, and really, children all over this country. What does it teach them to know a society doesn’t take care of its poorest and sickest individuals? That many kids like themselves weren’t born to the “right” parents and therefore don’t deserve basic healthcare. I can’t really look them in the eye and answer that question.
Today’s news brought further concerns. The current administration is considering actions such as stopping payments to insurers which would seriously hinder the healthcare law. Additionally, the Kaiser Family Foundation has pointed out that the collapse of the ACA could occur through executive orders and actions taken by Health and Human Services Secretary,Tom Price. Sabotaging the ACA would be devastating for millions of people and is NOT the answer.
The ACA should not be stripped down because it has changed the healthcare landscape, in my opinion, for the better. It needs to be bolstered through legislation that will support more exchanges and help drive down cost of coverage to the average consumer. I encourage a bipartisan Congress to take another look and REPAIR, not repeal the ACA if they truly want healthcare coverage for ALL.