How Congress Can Get Health Reform Right

How Congress Can Get Health Reform Right
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When the One Nation Health Coalition launched we argued that Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get health reform right. That is still the case. Congress can get this done. And they must get it done.

As Congress returns this week they have the opportunity to restart the work of reform. The task has been challenging because the issue is so complex. But there has also been movement on key issues. For instance, giving states flexibility and letting the market define essential health benefits can give patients more choices at a lower cost.

Meanwhile, the creation of a pre-existing protection fund will provide patients with pre-existing conditions additional security without making care too costly and inaccessible for everyone else.  By working in tandem with provisions providing for continuous coverage, these policies effectively solve the problem of pre-existing conditions.

The most important reform, however, is to simply let the marketplace work and create the right incentives. Giving patients the freedom to choose their own doctor and plan will do far more to lower costs and improve quality than Washington mandates. 

Everyone knows that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must be changed. It is fatally flawed. More insurers continue to drop out of the system. Everyone running for President last year knew that. Senator Sanders wanted single payer. Secretary Clinton wanted higher taxes to fix the ACA. Every Republican supported repeal and had some sort of a proposal to create a market driven health care system.

Almost everyone agrees that something must be done. And something will be done. The question is: whose fix will prevail?

The most important consideration must be to create a new system that built on patient-centered care. That means better help for you and your family, and stronger relationships between doctor and patient. Second, no matter how you get your health care, through your employer, Medicare, as an individual, or Medicaid, you deserve the same basic opportunity of access to the doctors you want and benefits you need. You choose your plan. You choose your doctor. You choose your coverage. It can be just that simple.

There are several key changes that have to be made to empower patient choice of coverage. Quality information must be transparent and easily available. Doctors must be able to provide care in which the patient can pay the doctor directly. All families must have access to health savings accounts (HSAs) through a universal health savings account that they control no matter what type of insurance they have. HSA accounts must be allowed to pay for sharing ministries and other options and choices made by you and your family. Rights of conscience and religious beliefs consistent with the Constitution must be protected.

Access to this new system will need to be supported by a targeted plan that helps those who do not qualify for Medicaid, but need help to buy insurance in the new patient-doctor, market driven system. Those with catastrophic or long term medical needs will have their costs underwritten by risk pooling to help them cope with the serious financial challenges they face.

Legislation to create such a new system is being refined now. There are significant details to be worked out. But, in the end, the purpose of these discussions is not to defeat something or to repeal something. Instead, the goal is create a completely new system of health care for you and your family – a system that works and provides continuous coverage for you and for all. One that provides access, benefits and choices to provide you the health care security Americans need.

These are goals that should unite not just Republicans but all Americans. Putting you – the individual – at the center is the best way to improve care for you and for all – the community. In America, we don’t stand for the denial of individual liberty, nor do we stand for anyone being left behind or forgotten. These values bind us together and should guide Congress as it resumes this critically important task.

Dave Hoppe is the former Chief of Staff to House Speaker Paul Ryan. David Wilson is the CEO of Asset Health. Both are advisers to the One Nation Health Coalition.

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