The Supreme Court’s ruling recently upholding the constitutionality of the PPACA signals the continuing expansion of the U.S. healthcare system.
The PPACA extends care to approximately 50 million formerly uninsured individuals. The uninsured currently forgo many, if not all, of the preventative procedures available. This will surely change as the PPACA is implemented. Although all physicians will likely see an increase in patients, the majority of the demand will be borne by primary care providers (PCPs), likely without the assistance of an increase in physicians providing primary care services.
To meet the increase in demand, physicians should start looking for investments that will increase efficiency. As time passes, healthcare reform initiatives like EHR, ACOs, and new physician reimbursement models may become more important for physicians trying to keep up with growing demand. Individuals providing complementary services–nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants–are also likely to play an increasingly more significant role going forward as providers look to cut costs.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognizes the challenges physicians face as implementation of the PPACA progresses. Signaling primary care as a central focus of the legislation, HHS recently proposed increasing Medicaid reimbursements to Medicare levels for PCPs during 2013 and 2014. The proposal is expected to boost reimbursements by an average of 34%, incentivizing PCPs to begin preparing for the influx of new patients. The PPACA also seeks to facilitate the expansion of services into underserved areas by increasing payments to rural healthcare providers.
Although some uncertainty still exists, one thing is certain–physicians need to start taking proactive steps to address the significant expansion of demand for their services.
© 2012 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC
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