A Plan to Kickstart Health Care Reform
The failure of the current healthcare reform process presents an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to show the American people that we’re capable of working together to achieve tangible results. It’s time to end the bitter fighting and fix our healthcare system.
We should have learned an important lesson when Democrats rammed the Affordable Care Act through the House and Senate without Republican input or support. Civility and collaboration were treated as naïve and useless relics of a bygone era. Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff at the time, famously said, “We have the votes, f*** ‘em.”
This wrongheaded approach led to nearly a decade of gridlock and partisanship. We’ve forgotten that collaboration led to some of the biggest policy accomplishments of the 20th century. President Reagan implemented his landmark tax reform legislation when Democrats commanded a huge majority in the House of Representatives. Congressional Democrats and Republicans worked together across the aisle to pass a bipartisan proposal that overhauled the tax code to help families and revitalize the economy. Instead of concentrating on the differences of their economic philosophies, they worked together to find solutions.
Democrats have been resisting negotiations so they can protect former President Obama’s signature law. As exchanges across the country collapse, premiums and deductibles skyrocket for families, and businesses suffer under burdensome mandates, Democrats have remained resolute in their choice to avoid finding fixes to their flawed law. Their loyalty should be to their constituents — the people who voted them into office — not the former president.
It’s time for both parties to come together and work to deliver real solutions. Instead of concentrating on the political points we have to gain, we need to focus on what the American people stand to lose if we don’t deliver. The reality is, we can’t change a $4 trillion industry every time a new political party takes control of a different branch of government. Americans deserve to know they will have access to stable, affordable, and quality healthcare no matter what party controls Congress or the White House.
While Republicans and Democrats will always have varying beliefs and viewpoints on healthcare, we should all agree that the current system isn’t working and needs to be reformed. Medicaid, Medicare, and other divisive healthcare issues still need to be addressed. But as we seek to settle our differences of approach and find ways to protect such programs from going bankrupt, we can achieve these reforms. Here are some common-sense policy solutions we can work together to implement:
Piecemeal reform: Healthcare is extremely complicated and complex. Instead of tackling this reform as one major bill, we should breakdown the legislation into easily digestible pieces. For example, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, legislation which allows small businesses to join together through association health plans to allow them greater ability to negotiate for lower health care costs for their employees, was passed as a standalone bill. We were able to help small businesses while the rest of the AHCA remained held up.
Allow people to buy insurance across state lines: It’s time to create a truly competitive marketplace that will drive down costs and increase consumer choice by allowing people to purchase insurance plans across state lines.
Remove the individual mandate to open up competition: Statistics show that millions of people chose to pay the Obamacare penalty instead of actually buying insurance. Removing the individual mandate would force insurance companies to become more competitive to attract people to buy insurance. Incentivizing companies to lower rates and expand healthcare options is needed to attract young, healthy people into the market.
Negotiate drug prices: Consumers around the world pay a fraction of the price that Americans pay for drugs, and our own government doesn’t even negotiate prices for Medicare beneficiaries. A recent study by Carleton University found that allowing the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices could save the U.S. up to $16 billion per year.
Medical malpractice reform: Healthcare costs are drastically inflated because of frivolous but expensive medical malpractice lawsuits. The House passed the Protecting Access to Care Act earlier this year to reform the malpractice industry. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will save the federal government $50 billion over a 10-year period if and when the Senate passes it.
Support employee wellness programs: Employer-sponsored wellness programs can incentivize healthy lifestyle choices through workplace rewards or insurance premium credits. Such programs have been needlessly caught up in onerous regulations and litigation. Let’s pass Rep. Virginia Foxx’s Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act into law and permit private employers to help create a healthier workforce.
Increase limits on health savings account contributions: You spend your money better than government spends your money. By increasing the tax-free contribution limit to health savings accounts, Congress can help families save their own money for their own healthcare needs.
These are common-sense policies that both parties should get behind. It’s not a “win” to see the other political party struggle in defeat. Our country deserves representation that can solve problems, not revel foolishly in pyrrhic victories. We’ve been asking America to believe that Congress will pass a replacement plan to make care more affordable and accessible. Let’s pass these reforms into law to show the American people that it can actually happen.