Affordable Care Act’s First Birthday: Hold the Celebration?

March 23, 2011

One year since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, its impact on Americans has turned into one of the most hotly debated and controversial subjects in physician circles.

On Wednesday the Affordable Care Act turned one. But whether the Act has benefitted Americans has turned into one of the most hotly debated and controversial subjects in physician circles.

In of the most attention-grabbing pieces that hit the newswires, “Healthcare Reform’s First Birthday is No Piece of Cake,” writer Robert Lowes noted that “most physicians are not in any mood to light a candle.” In fact, a January Poll conducted by Thomson/Reuters and HCPlexus revealed nearly eight out of 10 physicians believed the ACA would negatively impact their profession, and 74 percent predicted the law would make physician reimbursement less fair, the article stated.

But while many physicians have voiced their concern (and displeasure), many medical associations issued press releases today reiterating their support for the law.

"The AAFP supported this legislation for many reasons, not the least of which is its goal of achieving health coverage for nearly everyone in this country," said a statement reissued today by the American Academy of Family Physicians. "In addition, the (Affordable Care Act) implemented numerous strategies for improving healthcare delivery and making more available affordable, high-quality care."

But although the association still supports the Act, it expressed new concern that the ACA “might not accommodate privately owned, small and medium-sized physician practices."

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers continue to lambaste what they call Obamacare; cries for repealing it grew louder on the one-year anniversary. In a YouTube video released Wednesday morning, Rep. Paul Broun (R.-Ga.), who spent much of his career as a family physician, called the healthcare bill “the greatest assault on medical patients, taxpayers, and doctors in American history.”

Calling the bill “an almost 3,000-page monstrosity,” Broun said the ACA will destroy millions jobs and the quality of patients’ care by allowing “some bureaucrat in Washington” to dictate the kind of medicine a patient has and the kind of surgery a patient needs.

Still, though many of the changes in the Act are years away (and others yet to be defined), one thing that’s for certain is physicians need to plan ahead for coming changes.

In our recent article on the impact of healthcare reform, a number of sources noted that the way practices operate will not be the same in four years. And not all sources we interviewed were all gloom and doom.

"If the regulations are favorable … in that they allow hospitals, physician groups, and others to collaborate outside of those employment ties, then perhaps independent physician groups will be able to survive," David Howard, an associate professor in Emory University's Department of Health, Policy, and Management, told Physicians Practice.

We’d like to hear from you. How has, or how will, the Affordable Care Act positively and/or negatively impact your practice? Post your thoughts below.