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CEO Power Panel: No Repeal Without Replace

Shortly after Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election, leaders of the six-hospital Mission Health system decided to put large capital investments on hold. They wanted to preserve financial flexibility in case the new Republican administration pushed through “very harmful changes and reductions in payment,” said Dr. Ronald Paulus, CEO of the Asheville, N.C.-based system.

Meanwhile, Mission Health chose to continue investing in population health initiatives, its new health insurance company and its Medicare Advantage program.

Paulus said those decisions flowed out of the huge uncertainty caused by Trump’s and congressional Republicans’ promise to rapidly repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. “It’s eight years going in one direction, then turning on a dime and going in a completely different direction,” he said. “Uncertainty wreaks havoc in any industry. As a nation, we should decide on a direction and provide some long-standing stability.”

Healthcare CEOs, Paulus among them, are willing to consider Trump’s healthcare reform ideas. But they have strong concerns about whether his plan would match the ACA’s performance in expanding coverage and slashing the uninsured rate to less than 9%, according to Modern Healthcare’s post-election Power Panel survey, which got responses from 93 of 123 CEOs contacted. Leaders of large hospitals and health systems are disproportionately represented on the panel, but the participants also include CEOs of insurers, suppliers and technology companies, as well as associations representing sectors across the industry.

Beyond the ACA, the CEOs surveyed stressed the need for action to curb the growth of prescription drug prices, with 60% saying that should be a top priority for the new administration and Congress.

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