For each new federal regulation that is implemented, President Donald Trump has ordered that at least two existing regulations must be identified for elimination, Politico reported.
Trump also recently issued an executive order temporarily banning immigration from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, a move that will have a tremendous impact on the medical community, due to the huge role of foreign medical graduates in filling residency slots, as well as physician needs in rural areas and safety-net hospitals.
Even policies that are not specifically directed at healthcare are having an effect, such as Trump’s proposed tax on imports from Mexico, which could apply to billions of dollars’ worth of medical supplies imported annually.
Trump is wasting no time in making sweeping changes to national policy, and the effects on healthcare will be far-reaching.
As a heavily regulated industry, healthcare stands to benefit from the executive order specifying that two laws must be eliminated for each new one that is enacted. Physicians and insurers are applauding the idea of less regulation. But they’ll also have to adjust to a quickly-changing landscape—one in which the technologies and systems they have invested in may no longer be necessary. It also remains to be seen how patient advocate groups will react to the potential dismantling of laws designed to promote safety and transparency.
One example for how this executive order could impact legislation is on the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act, Rachel Sachs, associate professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, noted in a blog post. The law "imposes enormous new obligations on HHS and the FDA to make all kinds of policy judgments going forward," Sachs wrote, adding, "The 'regulations' the FDA would issue under the Act – whether through notice-and-comment rulemaking or guidance – are not ones the agency in its own judgment has decided are necessary. They are ones that Congress and the President have deemed are necessary."
The immigration ban and proposed tax could send healthcare prices soaring. Aside from the public relations nightmare of turning away hundreds or thousands of medical residents, the action will exacerbate physician shortages. Even if the administration were to make an exception for medical residents (which is unlikely), it’s reasonable to expect a chilling effect on future students’ eagerness to train here.
This morning, Stat's Casey Ross and Max Blau note, "As many as 25% of U.S. physicians were born outside the U.S., not to mention huge numbers of nurses, researchers, and IT specialists who moved here to work in hospitals and clinics." Scarcity drives prices up, and physicians become an even scarcer commodity, particularly in certain specialties and geographic areas. This will be especially true in vulnerable communities.