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Health Reform Will Continue Despite Republican Victories


I believe that the Republican victories during the midterm elections will have little effect on the future of Obamacare. Here's why.

In addition to my full-time job as a medical practice administrator, I also teach part time at a local community college. One of my students, who knows I like to discuss politics, recently asked me, “In lieu of the Republican victories during the recent midterm elections, what is your opinion of the future of Obamacare.”

I personally do not predict any change to how Obamacare is panning out. If the Republicans attempt to push legislative change (or, as the new Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell once proclaimed, pull "out Obamacare, root and branch") the President will of course veto.

What is interesting is that Sen. McConnell’s state of Kentucky enrolled over 500,000 citizens last year and the state had the second highest drop in the nation in the number of uninsured, going from 20.4 percent of the population uninsured to 11.9 percent. I would like to know what Sen. McConnell would tell these Kentuckians if he were to complete his “root and branch” maneuver.

I should also add that during President Obama's first year in office, not first term, McConnell stated it was his goal to make sure the Obama presidency lasted one term.

And politicians want to know why their approval ratings are 14 percent, according to a recent Gallup poll.

As a measure of enrollment success, 10.3 million Americans gained healthcare coverage last year. The number of uninsured nationally dropped from 18 percent to 13.4 percent.

Sen. McConnell may not feel enrollment success is a relevant measure of program success, but enrolling over 10 million individuals offers those Americans the knowledge and comfort that they and their families may be more protected from the debilitating effects of major injuries or illnesses, and potential bankruptcies.

If Sen. McConnell determines he cannot undue Obamacare, he may once again attempt to repeal the 2.3 percent medical device tax which helps fund Obamacare.

According to The Washington Post, a lobbyist for the Advanced Medical Technology Association (a lobbying group for the medical technology industry), stated, “...We’re encouraged to see the statements from Sen. McConnell and Speaker Boehner that they'd like to [repeal] the device tax early in the next Congress."

The lobbying group claims that the first year of the tax resulted in an estimated 14,000 job cuts. However, according to The Post, Ernst and Young stated that revenues for medical technology firms grew 4 percent to $336 billion in 2013, the first year the tax went into effect.

And politicians want to know why their approval ratings are 14 percent.

Staying on the theme of Washington, the requirements for the second stage of meaningful use, created and enacted by politicians and capital-based consultants and advisers, have been subjected to mounting criticism and scrutiny by physicians and administrators.

In an article appearing on Healthcare IT News, Robert Wachter, MD, stated that only two percent of eligible physicians and about one in six hospitals have successfully attested to the Stage 2 requirements. Wachter stated, “Even former supporters have taken to calling the program meaningless abuse.”

And politicians want to know why their approval ratings are 14 percent.

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