“For most of my career I've slept soundly,” said Chris Van Gorder, CEO of San Diego-based Scripps Health. “Now I'm more anxious than normal.”
What's keeping him and other healthcare industry CEOs up at night is the huge uncertainty created by the Republican drive to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
They fear a new GOP-crafted system would reduce premium subsidies and Medicaid funding, drive up the number of uninsured Americans, spike uncompensated-care costs, and threaten their organizations' financial viability.
“We'll be facing very serious decisions about what services we offer and how many people we can employ,” said Van Gorder, whose system has held back on hiring for administrative positions since the November elections.
Those anxieties are clear from the results of Modern Healthcare's first-quarter CEO Power Panel survey, which got responses from 81 of 110 CEOs contacted, as well as from interviews with some of the executives who completed the survey.
They accept that the election of President Donald Trump, with GOP control of Congress, probably means major health system changes. But they fervently hope Republicans move deliberately and thoughtfully, and preserve affordable coverage for the 20 million people who obtained insurance under the ACA.
“Any drop-off in coverage falls 100% on health systems, because we're the ones who pay in terms of bad debt and charity care,” said Catherine Jacobson, CEO of Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health.