Among all Americans, the most popular approach for improving the health care in the U.S. isn’t repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act or moving to a Medicare-for-All government-provided plan. It would be to improve the current health care system, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s research reported in a Bipartisan Rx for America’s Health Care.
The BPC is a truly bipartisan organization, co-founded by Former Democratic Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, and Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker and Bob Dole.
While this political week in America has revealed deep chasms between the Dems and the GOP, BPC has found a way to breach the gap via this report which offers recommendations to help heal health care in a divided nation….a “Purple Prescription” if you will, mixing up the Blue and the Red.
With the goal of “fixing the current system,” BPC’s recommendations focus on:
- Lowering consumer health care costs
- Addressing employer-sponsored health insurance
- Reducing system-wide health care costs
- Improving Medicare
- Improving Medicaid.
The entire report is a must-read, but in this post I’ll focus on the first pillar, to lower consumer health care costs. This tactic gets to the first “A” in the Affordable Care Act: affordability. The objectives would be to stabilize the insurance premiums in individual health insurance marketplaces, to provide relief and flexibility to employers, to reduce system-wide health care costs across payers (including ending surprise medical bills and eliminating barriers to prescription drug competition), to improve Medicare (eg., modernizing the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute, modifying Medicare Part D drug benefits to cap out-of-pocket spending, and other items), and to improve Medicaid.
The bottom-line of the report is that, “sustainable solutions must address consumers’ concerns about the high cost of health care in a way that doesn’t needlessly disrupt their coverage choices or the way they receive services today.”
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Can the souls and intents of Tom Daschle, George Mitchell, Howard Baker and Bob Dole inspire U.S. legislators inside the Beltway to come together for the health-benefit of U.S. patients?
This is my call for Americans to be full health citizens, detailed in my book HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen — to be covered by health insurance with access to primary care and key services; privacy and control rights to personal (health and other) data; the right to clean air, water and environments; and, the right and access to vote in elections. Those are rights that should be coupled with responsibilities: to self-care as best as one can for their health and to support loved ones and the community in doing so; to promote health and wellness through personal choices that inspire others to be healthy; and, indeed, to vote in elections.
As for the U.S. Congress, they should take a page out of health care providers’ and payors’ growing understanding and embrace of the social determinants of health, taking the opportunity to bake health into public policies: food systems and agriculture, the environment, labor policy, housing, education and — to be sure — health care access.
As American majorities favor lowering prescription drug costs and ensuring pre-existing conditions are covered — it remains to be seen just how such a divided U.S. Congress would come together to deal with these public priorities for health.
In a week such as that we are living through in the U.S., one yearns for the days of the kind of bipartisanship the BPC report embodies, invoking the energies of Daschle, Mitchell, Baker and Dole.