A Health Care System That Works for Everyone
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By Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Last week we discussed how America is having the wrong conversation about health care—one that does not comprehensively address all of our major health care challenges and sets the wrong expectations for the American people. This week we examine how to build and maintain the best health care system in the world, improving access, quality, and affordability for all.
Let's start with the single biggest barrier that puts coverage out of reach for many families and employers—costs. We can dramatically reduce costs by implementing health IT, focusing on wellness and prevention, reducing medical errors, and ending frivolous medical malpractice suits.
When it comes to health IT, we need to build a networked health care system that unites providers, facilities, and patients—and makes information available to support efficient, collaborative care.
We can improve quality of care by reducing litigation and costly medical errors. We should not tolerate, or pay for, preventable medical errors. In fact, Medicare and Medicaid—and some large insurance companies—are now refusing to do so.
We can remove medical malpractice claims from the tort system by creating specialized Health Liability Courts. Lawsuits are driving doctors out of business and raising costs for everyone.
The best way to reduce costs is to prevent the need for services in the first place, and you can only do that through wellness and prevention. Government and employers must educate workers about good health decisions and encourage personal responsibility.
We need a much more consumer-driven health care system, with better transparency. Congress can strengthen the individual health care market by granting comparable tax treatment whether premiums are paid through an employer or by individuals in the private marketplace. Lawmakers should also improve health savings accounts, a true success story.
We need more transparency in the quality of providers and treatments so that individuals can make better, more cost-effective decisions regarding health care—and, so that good providers can be rewarded and bad providers avoided.
We need to strengthen the employer-provided system, which covers 177 million people, by keeping regulations and mandates to a minimum. Congress should allow smaller businesses to pool risk and purchase coverage for their employees at an affordable price.
Sound like small potatoes? It's not. Instead of imposing an expensive, government-run health care system on the American people, let's implement some commonsense ideas to make health care more affordable and accessible. If we do that, American health care will once again be seen as an opportunity—not as a problem.