It is no secret that after the failure of the AHCA, Republicans still want and need to pass meaningful health care reform, as well as repair Obamacare. As Americans face increasing premiums, as well as rapidly rising deductibles, it is clear that the system is broken. At the same time, the cost of care is rising while the quality of care is being diminished. The White House and Congress would be wise to implement the following in their health care reform:
- Remove state lines! President Trump campaigned on allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines in order to allow the free market to increase competition and expand access to affordable health plans for Americans.
- Overhaul the federal agency Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This agency oversees Medicare and Medicaid. It set the rates of reimbursement for care, as well as provides the guidelines for which Americans have access to certain types of health care. Presently, CMS only allows rural residents to receive care via telemedicine, be it via phone or app (average cost is $50). As a result, CMS does not allow telemedicine to care for urban residents. When they are ill, they are more likely to head to the emergency room for care with an average cost of $1,233. This is a drain not only on the taxpayers, but on the quality of care the ER provides. 96 percent of all ER visits are for noncritical care issues. These visits cause doctors, nurses and hospital staff to be overworked and reduce the quality of care. Should CMS change policy and allow for urban residents to receive care from telemedicine, costs for all will be lowered and quality of care will rise.
- Allow individuals and small businesses to pool together to buy insurance as a group. Small businesses and individuals have been negatively impacted by Obamacare. They are bearing the brunt of its costs and are directly impacted by the high price of insurance. If we were to enable them to band together to form a group that would be able to buy health insurance at a discounted rate, it would help immensely. Businesses can focus on growth and Americans will have more options for buying affordable health insurance.
- Ensure that any alterations to or replacement of Obamacare keeps the popular parts. Americans like several parts of Obamacare, including not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage due to preexisting conditions and permitting kids to remain on the health care plan of their parents until the age of 26. Were these to be watered down or removed, the political consequence could be quite severe.
- Avoid pitfalls of the AHCA. In the AHCA, insurance companies would have been permitted to impose caps on coverage for treatment, be it drug abuse or chemotherapy. Additionally, it would have effectively eliminated mental health parity. Doing so was morally wrong and created more opposition to the bill on both sides. Any future health care bill should not have provisions that would permit these to happen.
- Tort reform! Medical malpractice lawsuits are driving up the cost of care and making doctors prescribe unnecessary treatments as an abundance of legal caution. Malpractice insurance costs have risen, so doctors have been forced to pass this cost onto the consumer/patient. They also are taking an approach to treating illness that is the equivalent of using napalm when a sniper rifle is required. Americans and insurance companies then have to pay for these extra treatments and doctors focus less on providing quality care. Instead, doctors provide care designed to minimize the risk of being sued.
These are but a few of the ideas and policies that any real health care reform would need to contain. In fact, most are proposals that Democrats could back if Republicans were to put them forward. Take reforming CMS: neither Republicans nor Democrats have caught onto the fact that it makes care worse and more expensive. Why? Simply because this agency run by bureaucrats has refused to adapt to the benefits of technology.
Make no mistake, passing meaningful health care reform will be a difficult process. The Freedom Caucus will likely adhere to its rigid stance of complete repeal of Obamacare. At the same time, Democrats will be reluctant to work with the GOP because their base is demanding ideological purity and that they be the party of no at every turn. Democrats in the House and Senate will need to be willing to buck their base and work with Republicans on many of the ideas above. Doing so would do a lot of good for Americans.