Survey: Uncertainty about ACA future prevalent in healthcare industry

Dive Brief:

  • A majority of healthcare leaders think Congress will end up tweaking the Affordable Care Act to make it more palatable to Republicans, rather than replacing it outright, according to a new Venrock survey.
  • The venture capital firm queried 274 executives from across the healthcare industry and found that 40% expect the ACA to be repaired, versus 20% who predict repeal and replace. Thirty-two percent said lawmakers will likely rename the law.
  • Asked which healthcare subsectors face the most challenges under the Trump administration, 66% said accountable care organizations and 62% said insurance. Likely to be least challenged are telemedicine (12%) and wearables/consumer sensors (10%), Venrock’s 2017 Healthcare Prognosis shows.

Dive Insight:

Last year’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act has already given a boost to digital health by clarifying that the Food and Drug Administration will not regulate certain categories of software, including wellness apps, software for transferring, storing or displaying medical device data, and clinical decision support data.

No matter what happens with the ACA, “cost and outcomes will remain a concern,” Bradley Merrill Thompson, a partner at Epstein Becker Green, told Healthcare Dive in December. 

Roughly half (49%) of healthcare executives also said they expected there to be some movement on restraining prescription drug prices, though only 5% expect it to result in meaningful change.

On consolidation, 87% expect to see more venture-backed health IT startups gobbled up by larger companies. However, views were more mixed on hospital M&A activity. Fifty-three percent of respondents said hospital consolidation would speed up to concentrate power prior to MACRA taking effect, while 32% predicted a slowdown as larger health systems struggle to create real value. Another 14% said the Federal Trade Commission’s increasingly hostile view of corporate megamergers would slow future consolidation.

Nearly three-fourths (71%) of respondents also think big insurance company mergers will seek out noninsurance company deals to build out value. And 78% said big EHR companies will step up M&A activity to create new revenue streams.

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