With Iran and impeachment dominating the news, health reform has moved to the sidelines. But health care remains by far the top issue for voters in 2020, so here are some articles I think are the most important and relevant going forward.
Health Costs: Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, writes about health costs in his terrific daily blog. “But which health care costs? Is it the total health care bill for the nation? The total health care bill for an individual? The cost of care covered by insurance? Or, is it the cost of care paid out of pocket? It matters, as these questions yield different answers.” We need to decide what problems to try to solve before we can develop effective policy solutions.
Transparency: Theo Merkle, a top health policy advisor to President Trump, has a post for CNN, Trump’s efforts to make medical prices transparent are good for America, that focuses on the administration’s new transparency rules. “Together, these rules will usher in a new era of healthcare transparency” so patients can shop for value and increased competition can drive quality up and costs down. “But perhaps most significantly, these rules will unleash our country’s greatest asset, the American people themselves, as agents of reform in healthcare.” That’s THE idea for the new decade.
Death rates falling: The American Cancer Society’s latest report shows that cancer deaths had their largest one-year decline ever, falling by more than 2%. The decline is due in part to advances in a new form of treatment called immunotherapy which uses a person’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Innovation is key to most of the problems in our health sector. Yet the drug bill the House passed before Christmas would mean 100 fewer new drugs will be produced over the next decade, lowering life expectancy. What are they thinking?!
A new mandate? And speaking of backward solutions, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg proposes automatically enrolling people in a government health if they remain uninsured. But a Washington Post article explains, “Buttigieg health plan hinges on ‘supercharged’ version of unpopular Obamacare [individual] mandate.” Matt Bruenig, head of the People’s Policy Project, a liberal think tank, warns people would face a retroactive bill that could mean they are on the hook for thousands of dollars in back premiums. “This will be a political nightmare,” Bruenig warns.
Public option woes: Jim Capretta of the American Enterprise Institute takes a deep dive into another liberal idea supported by “moderates” including former Vice President Joe Biden—a fallback government health insurance program. Capretta explains the hurdles that Washington State is facing in trying to create a state-based public option, with physicians and hospitals aggressively engaged in avoiding the payment cuts many say are necessary for the plan to offer more affordable premiums.
Single Payer: A recent letter from CBO previews numerous problems from a new government-controlled health insurance system: Depending on the how the legislation is structured, CBO says: “wait times could lengthen… Some demand for care might be unmet … disruption might negatively impact the quality of care for patients… fewer new hospitals would be built in the future, reducing access to care… patients would not have a choice of insurer or benefits, and those standardized benefits might not meet the needs of some people…the supply of care from physicians would tend to fall…” And on and on and on…
Featuring the Galen Institute: The Heartland Institute’s Health Care News profiled the Galen Institute this month and our decades of work in promoting patient-centered health reform. You might find it worth a quick read: “Galen Institute Takes On Socialized Medicine, Promotes Health Care Choices.” Health Care News each month profiles a national and state-based public policy organization “working to advance freedom in the health care market so that consumers and providers can all be winners.” It’s a great publication with a special focus on state-based health care news. You can subscribe here.