Voters’ election of President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican Majority put health care reform squarely back on the table even as leaders debate if repeal or reform, and if reform, what reform Americans want.
The increasingly evident cracks and extraordinary cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms make clear reform is needed. Contrary to the exuberant claims of the victors, however, the election results are not so overwhelming that they provide a clear mandate for healthcare reform or a clear pathway for what to replace it with. If healthcare reform this time around is to do any better than the last, boaters need to become very involved and very specific about what they like and don’t like and very realistic terms and leaders need to listen and act on that input to come up with the most pragmatic and specific plan possible quickly.
As Americans gear up for the next round of debate there are some basic realities we all must confront.
Pie in the sky, idealistic policies aren’t a real option and only promise more waste and disillusionment.
As the healthcare reform debate resumes, voters and leaders considering these matters must look forward, not back.
Voters and leaders need to focus on discrete, SPECIFIC, reforms that best promote patient-empowered decision making and communicate their wishes clearly to Congressional and state elected officials. We must get beyond buzz words and hype to talk about what, how, when, who chooses, who does the work, how they get paid and other very concrete matters.
Because the reforms enacted over the past 7 years disassembled the old system, the old system no longer exists. Consequently, repeal alone isn’t a real option, even for those who dream of the “good old days.”
Also, Congress cannot undo Obamacare or fix healthcare with one magic vote. Even those who call for Congress on day one to repeal the ACA need to realize that the instant repeal will not undo the healthcare reform’s that were enacted because these reforms are hardwired into the state insurance laws and regulations that were implemented in response to the ACA.
Further, even if repeal would magically bring back the old system, going back to those old days doesn’t necessarily mean problem solved. Obamacare passed because the old system had problems. Coverage was still expensive and there were many people uninsured. The difference now is that a lot of the money is going for a huge regulatory nightmare that strips off money for Care to pay for infrastructure and regulators. As a result regardless of whether you repeal and replace or you systematically work through the laws the process will need to be specific and address the particular individual action items to fix the system. Any other process just replace this one mess with another.
Additionally, this is an American opportunity, that transcends partisanship. Healthcare requires statesmanship from our leaders and citizens. We are at war against disease and death. We must work as a team to fight this universal enemy.
We all bleed red and death eventually claims us all. Life, death and the care of the health of our nation is a shared need and a shared responsibility. Death, disability and illness come to all families regardless if income, race, sex, religion, or other classification that too often is used to distinguish and divide us. Health care is about helping families and communities care for loved ones dealing with the challenges of illness and eventually death. If we must argue over these distinction within our society, let’s do it somewhere else besides health care.
Resources are limited. We can’t give everything to everybody and someone has to pay the bill. Be cautious about financing by having the “haves” pick up the cost for the “have less.” Too often the have-nots suffer from reduced wages or employment from these Robin Hood financing strategies.
Also paying for it matters. Reforms that break the budget are unreliable and therefore aren’t sustainable. Bang for the buck matters.
Americans must stop treating health care professionals as religious martyrs. Physicians care for patients and pay a huge price dealing with the physical, financial and lifestyle demands to do so. Physicians and other healthcare professions deserve and must get paid commensurate with the skill, responsibility and accountability Americans expect. We must question why Americans have no problem with a talented athlete with a high school education earning millions of dollars in the NBA but feel a doctor who spends 8-10 years and a half a million dollars or more earning the right to care for patients, who is paid far less, earns too much. Healthcare isn’t free and legislating unreasonably low reimbursement drives quality providers out of healthcare, undermines quality, availability or both. Americans that ignore this reality can and should look forward to being cared for by less educated, less skilled physicians.
Finally healthcare isn’t one size fits all and wellness and disease management at best slows, but cannot defeat death. Each individual and his or her family will experience a different path of life, illness and health, and ultimately death. These are personal matters that require personal choice to match these unavoidable personal responsibilities.
To help ensure you and your family retain the choices most important to you and understand the choices that this round of health care reform will product, you must embrace your right and responsibility to plan for and deal with these challenges by getting informed and participating.
Here’s some reading to get started: the leading proposals of the Republican Majority leaders:
Share your thoughts about what our health care system should look like going forward, how these proposals relate and the other reforms you believe Congress should make to build a better healthcare system for today that can survive into the future by joining the discussion in the Solutions Law Press, Inc. Coalition for Responsible Health Care Policy LinkedIn Group.