Health Leaders Weigh In on Trump Impact and Cybersecurity

I had the privilege of co-chairing the Institute for Health Technology Transformation Beverly Hills Health IT Summit on November 10-11.  The meeting started just two days after the national elections, and of course the presidential contest results were all the buzz. 

During the conference, we polled the audience – which consisted of hospital executives, physicians, CIOs, public health officials, vendors, and consultants – on various questions, including their views on the election’s impact on healthcare and, since this was Health IT meeting, their biggest security concerns.  Here are the results of this non-scientific survey:

Given the election results, how likely is it that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed?

A.    Extremely likely – 31%

B.     Fairly likely – 38%

C.     Not likely – 19%

D.    Not a chance – 13%

 

Of the reforms to healthcare President-Elect Trump has proposed, which is likely to have the greatest impact on your organization?

A.    Affordable Care Act rollback – 50%

B.     H-1B visa restrictions – 30%

C.     Trade agreement rewrite – 10%

D.    Cybersecurity Enhancements – 10%

 

These answers reflect the Republican “repeal and replace” mantra they have been repeating pretty much since the Affordable Care Act passed.  Nearly 7 in 10 thought it is either very or somewhat likely that the ACA would be repealed.  As co-chair, I did not vote, but had I done so, I would have opted for “not likely.”  Even though Republicans now control the presidency and both houses of Congress, Senate rules would require 60 votes to completely repeal the ACA.   This is highly unlikely since, although Republicans will hold a slight majority in the new Senate, it seems doubtful that they could persuade enough Democrats to vote to undo President Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment. 

This is not to say that the election won’t greatly affect the ACA.  Obamacare has been such a major Republican theme that they are publicly committed to reigning it in.  However, Republicans know they would face major backlash if the popular aspects of the ACA – such as guaranteed coverage and allowing coverage for adult children up to age 26 – are not somehow retained.  This week’s Modern Healthcare heavily features the election’s impact on the ACA and pretty mush says the same thing. 

Having said all this, had the question read, “Given the election results, how likely is it that the Affordable Care Act will be scaled back or weakened,” I would have answered “extremely likely.”

 

And given the conference’s IT focus, we also asked the following.

What is your most pressing security concern?

A.    Insider threats – 39%

B.     Hackers – 30%

C.     Ransomware – 13%

D.    Unknown –  13%

E.     Theft – 4%

The fact that “insider threats” was the top response reflects the industry-wide consensus that human behavior – and not external threats – is the largest contributor to security breaches.  Of course, organizations must utilize very strong technical safeguards, but many underestimate the threat represented by internal human behavior, either intentional or created by carelessness.

 

These questions provide interesting glimpses into the thoughts of some industry leaders.