The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) is on everyone’s minds these days.
You’ve probably seen town hall meetings where citizens bring up medical conditions to politicians, where the ACA saved their lives or kept them from financial ruin. Let’s face it, some meetings are downright angry.
Maybe there’s a reason people are mad that ACA is being threatened to be defunded. In a recent ABC /Washington News poll, only 37% of Americans favor repealing the ACA. 61% favor keeping it or improving on it. In fact, in the breakdown of data, most Americans want coverage for pre-existing conditions and minimum coverage required in all states.
Yet nearly daily there are discussions about it — another GOP-led healthcare bill, using the ACA as leverage to get a border wall or defunding it completely.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but if repealed could mean massive changes in the healthcare industry that’s still reeling from mergers and acquisitions, electronic health records and more.
In the meantime, as a healthcare organization, you need to continue to keep employees and staff up-to-date. Sharing information about what’s happening increases business acumen and helps your staff understand your healthcare organization’s perspective.
1. Be honest and sincere
Everyone can probably agree and disagree with parts of the ACA, no matter his or her political affiliation. Your executives may have reasons to like and dislike parts based on how it impacts clinics, hospitals, procedures and patient care. It’s important for employees and staff to hear it from executives.
Executives should share that information in your company’s news internally with employees, discuss them in meetings and town halls and individually. Also, while they’re sharing impacts, they should discuss what they’re doing or plan to do about it — using lobbyists, discussing with labor organizations, meeting with politicians and more. Again, employees want to hear how executives are backing their healthcare staff.
While sharing ideas, be careful about telling employees what to think. Providing your executive viewpoints or the hospital’s stance may or may not influence employees. But no one likes being told what to think.
2. Welcome feedback and questions
In the healthcare system, there are many different viewpoints why someone might or might not favor repealing the ACA. If you share information on what’s happening and why, invite feedback and questions. Invite their concerns, too. Address what you can. Acknowledge what you don’t know or can’t address.
By making the information interactive, your staff will be better informed and your executives will understand what’s happening at the organization.
Consider giving people a place to ask questions on the company intranet with answers there, too. Cover some of the best questions and responses in company news and in employee meetings.
3. Be ready for change
Just because nothing’s happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. You can pre-assemble a team to handle the change through your organization – from project managers to communications professionals.
Sure, you won’t be able to decipher everything that needs to happen, especially before a law passes, but you can identify tasks you know will be impacted – from insurance relations to payment.
What if a new law doesn’t pass? Easy – disband the team. But knowing who to go to ahead of time and some of the tasks that will need to take place enables your organization to be better prepared.
While we’re all waiting for something – or nothing – to happen, it’s important to keep employees and staff informed. They’ll be better prepared, understand your organization’s stance and maybe able to make better-informed opinions. Not only that, they’ll be able to better serve patients who are dealing with the ACA first-hand.