If you’ve been wondering how healthcare and the O&P landscape could take shape and form in 2021, much will depend on which candidate will occupy the White House come January.
Michael Lovdal, PhD, addressed this topic in his keynote address, “What Has Changed in American Health Care, and How Will the Pandemic Affect the Future?” at the 2020 American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) Virtual National Assembly.
“The national healthcare policy will become the main public policy debate of 2021—a slight caveat, priorities will depend on the election results. Either way, we will see significant debates given what’s happened with the pandemic and the impacts it’s had on our healthcare system,” said Lovdal, a healthcare analyst.
Lovdal suggested that O&P providers anticipate major changes and plan for the impact of various national healthcare policies on their business model. Implications could likely range from out-of-network billing, federally qualified health center expansion, “favored nation” drug pricing, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being confirmed, Medicaid block grants, funding reform, and Medicare for all or similar variants.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but the ACA is going to see significant debate again in 2021. It’s gone to the Supreme Court twice already,” said Lovdal, who expects the ACA to reach the Supreme Court again in 2021 and ultimately be upheld. “[The ACA] is here to stay, potentially even strengthened going forward.”
Lovdal also predicted that a significant share of care delivery will permanently move toward telehealth.
Pre-pandemic, healthcare organizations were at roughly 5 percent of telehealth visits, he said, but as the pandemic grew, telehealth visits climbed by 95 percent. “Volumes peaked in mid-April when telehealth visits comprised 69 percent of total visits. Since then, levels have stabilized at 21 percent of total visits,” he said.
Moving toward the new year, Lovdal encouraged O&P providers to actively participate in helping rebuild the public health system in the United States. “Look at your state and try to figure out what the infrastructure is like and find a unique role for public health to play in the O&P community,” he said.