The ground is shifting in the health policy debate, my friends. For most of the 25 years I have been working on this issue at the Galen Institute, the key issue has been coverage…coverage…coverage, with growing cries for Medicare for All and universal coverage.
But now that virtually all Americans have access to coverage, even if they aren’t signed up, concerns are shifting dramatically to costs with the focus on high premiums and out-of-pocket costs and insurance that isn’t really insurance at all as deductibles soar to $6,000, $8,000 or even higher.
And yet…I am testifying once again next week on Medicare for All before the Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders. I am honored to once again to share the witness table with the inimitable Prof. Charles Blahous of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. You can view the hearing at 11 a.m. on Thursday morning here.
And now for the good news: Market-friendly Members of Congress are hard at work in developing policies and plans to address targeted concerns that will encourage innovation, consumer choice, and competition to lower costs.
- This week, the Treatment Subcommittee of the House Health Future Task Force announced more than a dozen proposals to lower drug costs, unleash innovation in medicine, devices, and diagnostics, and promote security with American-made medicines.
- Reps. Rodgers, Banks, and Wenstrup would “Affirm Every Person’s Life has Value” by banning the use of policies that put a price on our lives to determine access to new medicines and technologies in all federal programs.
House Energy and Commerce Republican Leader and Republican Study Committee Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks, and RSC Member and GOP Doctors Caucus Co-Chair Brad Wenstrup, introduced “The Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act,” important legislation to prevent discrimination against Americans with disabilities.
Want more evidence? Joel White who heads the Council for Affordable Health Coverage testified last week before members of the House Education and Labor Committee about fresh ideas for reform “clear alternatives to more government-run policies such as Medicare for All,” Joel testified. “In our issue groups, we found that inflation makes calls for more health spending and expansion of government programs seem reckless, not compassionate.”
He has a plethora of proposals, many focused on helping small businesses with health costs and choices. Lots more details here.
So the big news is that conservatives, who have been wary of offering health proposals after John McCain’s thumbs-down vote against reform in 2017, are stepping up to the plate. Expect a series of announcements about new ideas over the coming weeks and months.
All of this calls into question why on earth taxpayers are spending $1 billion a year on a government program that is supposed to help us innovate our way out of high costs but which has little to show for the investment.
Pete Sepp, Andrew Lautz, and Doug Badger have written an in-depth analysis for the National Taxpayers Union on the much-heralded Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, created as part of Obamacare with the promise that its demonstration projects would save tens of billions of dollars in Medicare. The NTU paper shows how far CMMI is missing the mark in facilitating innovation and cost savings in these federal programs.
The private sector is the answer, not restrictive, regulation-bound government programs.
Finally, I was honored to be included again this year in The Washingtonian’s list of “Washington DC’s 500 Most Influential People.” And I was especially proud to be on the list with Dr. Brian Blase who is making a big impact in a short time with his new think tank, the Paragon Health Institute. Major congrats for the honor, Brian!