The AHCA Is a Threat to the Status Quo, Not Pre-Existing Conditions
The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House earlier this month, is a health care revolution. It isn’t about returning to the way things were. It’s about asking the country to imagine a system that has never existed before. Instead of offering a plan centered on Washington, D.C., the AHCA is centered on you. It empowers you and respects your relationship with your family and your doctor. It delivers to you increased access, benefits, choices and health savings. The opposition has been so intense precisely because the plan is so ambitious.
The next battle and opportunity to improve health care reform will now take place in the Senate. Concurrently, regulatory reform will complement the legislative reform process.
Over the last 50 years, three trends have defined the evolution of our health care experience as Americans.
- The continued growth of government and its centralized authority placing itself at the center of the health care experience rather than you or your doctor.
- The distancing of the individual from responsibility for his/her health care decisions and the cost of health care.
- There has been a surge of innovations in medical science, treatments and alternative benefit design solutions adopted by employers.
These first two trends need to be challenged. The third trend needs to be encouraged. The AHCA largely gets this reform mix right.
The impact of government regulation and the continued consolidation of competitors have only escalated the momentum of rising health care costs. Government’s role in severing the doctor-patient relationship has led to dissatisfaction, fear, and concern. Meanwhile, this trend has increased a sense of dependency on government solutions.
Flexible Benefit Plans, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Reimbursement Accounts, Medical Savings Accounts, Health Savings Accounts and the more recent advent of employee wellness programs as investments in individual employee improved health and health care are real illustrations of market driven innovation. The bottom line is innovation, consumer choice, and personal engagement and responsibility are all results of market forces and entrepreneurship in the employee-employer relationship. In many ways, this has improved the financial management of health care costs and value for more than 150 million Americans.
This is why the AHCA, this latest step in the health care reform process, is both important and so valuable to the American people. It leverages market innovation. It invests in you. The AHCA empowers the relationship with your primary care doctor and your active investment in your improved health and wellbeing.
In the coming weeks, be prepared to hear the dissenting screams of governing elites. These elites claim to speak the truth on behalf of the people but they’re really advocating on behalf of an ideological goal – the establishment of a single-payer health care system. One bogus argument they’re using now is the claim that thousands of Americans with pre-existing conditions will die if the AHCA becomes law. They say this, as Avik Roy notes, not because it’s based on facts but because it polls well.
In truth, the pre-existing population is a tiny fraction of the universe of patients. When patients with pre-existing conditions were invited to enroll in a program – the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) – which offered generous subsidies and served as a bridge until Obamacare went into full effect, only 114,959 signed up.
As Roy notes, “For those 114,959 people, the PCIP program was no doubt important. But Democrats could have passed a 5-page bill allocating a few billion dollars a year to covering 114,959 people without upending the entire U.S. health care system.”
The AHCA goes further and creates a protection fund that will provide an $8 billion down payment to states to make sure anyone with a pre-existing condition can get covered. The Senate may well expand this number. The truth is AHCA will serve this population more effectively than Obamacare and will do so while repairing the health insurance market for everyone.
Moreover, as National Review and others have noted, the bill includes “continuous coverage” protections for people with pre-existing conditions. For anyone with continuous coverage pre-existing conditions do not apply.
The stakes are high. The battle will continue to be fierce. The AHCA is a foundational next step in the reform process. It is centered in the objective of successfully expanding improved health and health care access, benefits, choices, health savings, responsibility and rewards for all Americans.
David Wilson is the CEO of Asset Health and the Executive Director of the One Nation Health Coalition