Thursday, November 29, 2012

How will the Results of the Presidential Election Affect Workers in the Allied Health Fields?


Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election makes it very difficult for the Republicans to eliminate or make significant adjustments to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is scheduled to be fully implemented in 2014. So how will it affect allied health care jobs? There are a variety of thoughts on the issue. According to a recent report from the Auburn Citizen in New York, U.S. Representative Anne Marie Buerkle believes a recent decision of a local hospital to lay off 25 workers can be directly attributed to the reduced Medicare reimbursements caused by the Affordable Care Act.

Other experts believe Medicare payment reductions caused by Obamacare won't have a huge affect on allied healthcare workers because those laid off will have job opportunities at other healthcare facilities. This is due to the demand for healthcare from the more than 32 million new people entering the healthcare system due to the Affordable Care Act.

Georgetown Report

According to the Georgetown Report produced by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, healthcare providers throughout the United States will need 5.6 million more trained employees between 2010 and 2020 to take care of the increased workload as the population gets older. The report forecasts this strong demand even if Obamacare gets defeated or reduced. According to the report, 80 percent of the expected 5.6 million new healthcare jobs will require post-secondary education.

Demand is expected to increase in a variety of healthcare fields such as nursing, medical assisting, health-practitioner technology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, diagnostic technology, and medical records administration, among others. There is already a huge shortage of lab techs in the United States, and the additional 32 million people with insurance in 2014 will also increase the demand for pharmacy technicians.

Some experts believe that the Affordable Care Act will create thousands of nursing and therapist jobs; hospitals and healthcare employers will use a mix of permanent and temporary RNs and therapists. Some experts believe that nurses will be more involved in preventive medicine practices in the future. Pete Ferguson, senior vice president for health and life sciences at Yoh Services, a staffing company, stated, "With the increase in demand for NPs, there will be further demand to backfill for RNs."

Because the Affordable Care Act places an emphasis on primary care, more lab tests and other prevention screenings will be needed, which increases the demand for diagnostic technicians along with other related healthcare occupations.

Some experts believe that the overall demand for workers in the allied healthcare fields may not be as large as others are predicting, mainly due to the fact that Medicare already covers just about everyone 65 years of age and older. A lot of the people receiving healthcare coverage for the first time because of the implementation of Obamacare are younger people who typically don't require as many healthcare services as senior citizens. Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum Center for Studying Health Spending, stated, "Uninsured Americans already receive about 50 percent of the care they will receive when insured." Roehrig believes that there will be about a three percent increase in provided healthcare. Also, due to younger people requiring more ambulatory care, outpatient services will have the greatest increase in demand.

The impact of the Affordable Care Act is still a little murky due to uncertainties and the complexity of the law, however the demand for allied healthcare workers should grow even without it.

Brian Jenkins writes about physical therapy assisting careers, as well as other career fields in allied health, for the Riley Guide.

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