There's a lot up in the air for healthcare policy following Donald Trump's surprising win. But a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act won't be possible – at least not initially, say two HIMSS policy experts.

HIMSS' Trump presidency predictions: No complete ACA repeal, telehealth, cybersecurity

By Jessica Davis
03:05 PM

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but also to keep some of its most popular components. So it's still to be seen just how his campaign promises will play out, said Samantha Burch, senior director of Congressional Affairs at HIMSS, during a call discussing health policy impact of the 2016 election.

Given that the election took a lot of people by surprise, with many presuming that Hillary Clinton would win, there are a lot of unknowns and much still to be determined, Burch explained.

The repeal of the ACA, of course, is something "the new president will want to put into place in the beginning," said Tom Leary, vice president of government relations at HIMSS.

"However, it would take one to two years to fully implement," he said.

"Republicans don't want to pull the rug out from 20 million Americans who have purchased insurance," Leary added. "Time will be needed to hear comments from the public."

[Commentary: Trump must respect the value of health IT as U.S. President]

While Trump told 60 Minutes that he'd be interested in retaining a few pieces of the ACA items, such as pre-existing conditions, he has made it clear that he wants to shift to tax credits and expand health savings accounts.

But Leary said the interest in full repeal from Republican Congress members remains high.

All is not doom-and-gloom, however, Burch predicted – especially with regard to health IT.

Technology will have "plenty of airtime in Congress," as technology is seen as an enabler for advancing value, she said. Further, the new White House administration will have a heightened awareness on interoperability.

Cybersecurity and infrastructure, along with an expansion of telehealth should also be part of Trump's agenda, Leary explained.

As healthcare moves from volume to value-based care, HIMSS does not expect that vision to change course under Trump, he said. The new administration is expected to embrace health IT innovations to support better care delivery models.

"We anticipate that he will be pushing for more telehealth inclusions," Leary said. "Telehealth is a real opportunity for both jobs and efficiency in care delivery."

Along the same lines, Leary said, "health IT could be major piece of Trump economic stimulus agenda."

There's also a strong indication precision medicine will remain a front priority issue, Leary said. While the program may be called something else, making data more readily accessible for precise clinical diagnoses will remain in the forefront.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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