Healthcare Reform 2.0
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As the U.S. Chamber continues to work through the regulatory process to mitigate the burdens imposed on business by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), it will also pursue a fresh set of reforms to meet needs unaddressed by the law.
“It is imperative that policymakers and the business community now work together to develop and support genuine reforms that improve access, ensure quality, promote wellness, and control costs,” says Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue.
After consulting for months with small businesses, large corporations, hospitals, and health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, the Chamber is issuing a proposal for further meaningful reform. To achieve greater value in health care, the Chamber’s proposal puts forth the following recommendations:
Expand Access to Affordable Coverage Options and Care
Covering 45 million uninsured Americans and ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable health services must continue to be a priority. Rather than drive Americans into government-run programs, steps should be taken to strengthen the private health care marketplace.
Those who secure insurance through their employer and those who buy it on their own should be treated equally under the tax code. Rather than impose one-size-fits-all state and federal mandates, Congress should allow greater flexibility in both employer-sponsored and individually purchased plans so that consumers can choose competitively priced plans that are right for them.
The expansion of community-based medical clinics should be encouraged to improve access to basic services, sparing the cost of expensive visits to the doctor’s office or the emergency room. Better pooling arrangements should be allowed so that individuals and small businesses can team up to expand purchasing power and negotiate strength while diluting risk.
Strengthen Quality and Innovation
Each year hundreds of billions of dollars are squandered and tens of thousands of lives are needlessly lost because of medical mistakes, hospital infections, and patient accidents while under caregiver supervision. To improve quality, consumers must have ready access to the performance records of doctors and hospitals and must share in the responsibility of making informed provider choices. Providers should be rewarded for quality care and incur substantial financial penalties for poor performance.
At the same time, U.S. businesses, scientists, and research institutions need to continue to create new health care advances in products, treatments, and technologies. To do that, Congress must better protect intellectual property, create a tax system that encourages investment and rewards success, and reform the immigration and education systems to ensure a talented and hardworking pool of medical researchers, scientists, engineers, doctors, and nurses.
Improve Citizens’ Health
The most significant driver behind escalating health care costs is chronic conditions and diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. More than 35% of American adults are obese, and 23 million children are obese or overweight. Type 2 diabetes afflicts 26 million Americans, and 79 million Americans age 20 and older are prediabetic. In 2008 alone, medical costs related to obesity were estimated at $147 billion.
Employers should be encouraged to promote wellness in the workplace and offer financial incentives for healthy behavior. Providers should be rewarded for improving health and wellness, not just for treating illnesses. A national movement equal in intensity to the anti-smoking movement should be supported across society to promote wellness, physical activity, and personal health responsibility.
Reform Entitlement Programs
Government is now the largest payer and purchaser of health care. True reform must therefore begin with saving the country’s health care entitlements programs—Medicare and Medicaid. As currently structured, these programs are unsustainable. Without reasonable changes, they cannot survive and will bankrupt federal and state governments.
reasonable and gradual changes are warranted, including higher premiums and co-pays phased in for those who can afford them, greater coordination and integration between programs, and a premium support option to future participants. States should be given Medicaid block grants along with far greater flexibility to run their programs and move clients into managed care that is capped at a set amount.
Control Rising Costs and Reduce Fraud
Congress must significantly reform the medical liability system, which breeds excessive litigation, encourages needless tests and procedures, and drives specialists from their practices.
Similarly, deploying health information technology and attacking fraud and abuse in both public programs and private insurance claims will reduce duplication and spending.