Galen Senior Fellow Brian Blase delivered his first congressional testimony yesterday as president of the new think tank he has founded, the Paragon Health Institute, and even though he was outnumbered 3-1 on the witness stand, he owned the hearing.
“Exploring Pathways to Affordable, Universal Health Coverage” was the subject of a House Education and Labor subcommittee hearing, which you can watch here.
While other witnesses argued for further expansion of government control over our health sector, Brian’s key point was that “The goal of universal health coverage can only be achieved if both health care and health coverage are affordable—and for too many people today, they are not.”
With charts and data, he showed that health costs continue to soar as products and services in other parts of the economy have increased in quality and declined in price. The main culprit in the health sector: federal and state policies, subsidies, and programs that fuel rising health costs.
Brian then went on to highlight a number of market-based, patient-friendly reforms that don’t cost taxpayers another penny but which would make care and coverage more affordable, increase choices for consumers, and expand access to coverage—initiatives like Association Health Plans, Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), Short-Term health plans, price transparency, and more. Here’s Brian’s full testimony.
The Q&A with members was encouraging in seeing a path to possible bi-partisan compromise on important issues:
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal agreed with Brian about the need for Federal Trade Commission scrutiny of non-profit hospital consolidation.
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, chair of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions who called the hearing, told Brian he wants to work with him on affordable coverage options for small business.
One thing that stood out: Much more education is needed about private-sector alternatives to bigger government, initiatives such as individual-coverage HRAs that allow employers to provide funds tax free to employees to select health coverage outside the workplace they may prefer.
Brian also pointed out to chairman DeSaulnier, a cancer survivor, the higher survival rates of patients in the U.S. vs those in countries with government-dominated and price-controlled health systems.
Brian also had a piece in The Hill this week pertinent to his testimony, “Biden’s inflationary health care agenda.” He explains numerous ways that President Biden “is aiming to resurrect failed big-spending proposals that would increase health care prices and prices throughout the entire economy.”
The witnesses called by the Democratic majority on the committee stressed over and over the need for more centralized control over health care and greater spending on subsidies for government programs.
Brian’s testimony was the only one that contained ideas for expanding and improving the supply of health care and ensuring that policies are conducive to life-saving and life-enhancing innovation.
This is the key focus for the new policy proposals the Healthy Future Task Force is developing for a new Congress. Private sector entrepreneurs are willing, but policymakers need to clear the path for innovation that is too-often suffocated by government regulation.
Speaking of private sector innovation, here is a link to a terrific presentation by “Warp Speed” author Paul Mango on Wednesday, hosted by the Institute for Policy Innovation, detailing the historic private-public sector partnership in responding to the Covid pandemic. Well worth a watch.