Build on What’s Working in Healthcare, Not One-Size-Fits-All

Build on What’s Working in Healthcare, Not One-Size-Fits-All
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Each and every American deserves access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care – no matter where they live or how much they earn. While we’ve made progress over the past eleven years, we still need to work together to lower costs, protect patient choice, expand access, improve quality and foster innovation. 

During this critical time when Americans are depending on our healthcare system more than ever before, the best way to achieve this is by building on and improving what’s working in healthcare, where private coverage, Medicare, and Medicaid work together to expand access to coverage and care.  But, unfortunately, some politicians continue to push for creating unaffordable, new government-controlled health insurance systems that threaten to undermine the progress we have made, while imposing higher taxes and healthcare costs on taxpayers and consumers.

A large and growing body of research shows us that – whether the proposal is called Medicare for All, the public option, Medicare buy-in, single-payer, or the recently reintroduced “Medicare-X” – a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare will lead to negative consequences for Americans. 

For one thing, each of these proposals would come with unaffordable new costs that would land at the feet of hardworking Americans, many of whom are already struggling financially in the midst of pandemic-driven economic pain.

In fact, a recent analysis by Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D., Tom Church and Daniel L. Heil finds that the costs of a new government-controlled health insurance system like the public option could be even more than originally projected, particularly in the event of an economic recession – demanding unaffordable tax increases on working families, massive increases to our national debt, or a combination of both.

While supporters of the public option have repeatedly attempted to brand it as a more “moderate” alternative to Medicare for All, research also warns us that enacting any of these proposed systems would ultimately threaten patients’ choice and control over their coverage and force Americans off their current plan into a single, one-size-fits-all health insurance system controlled by politicians. Under such a government-controlled system, patients’ timely access to quality care and innovative treatments would be put at risk, meaning Americans would be forced to pay more to wait longer for worse care.

There is a better path forward, which is to build on and improve our current healthcare system to expand access to affordable health coverage and care. Despite attempts by some politicians to undermine our existing system in recent years, the facts continue to bear out the efficacy of this constructive, common-sense approach.

A recent study by the Urban Institute provides a powerful example of this, finding that “[u]ninsurance among young adults ages 19 to 25 fell 14.2 percentage points between 2011 and 2018,” and that improvements “were concentrated between 2013 and 2016, when most major ACA coverage provisions were implemented, including Medicaid expansion and the establishment of the Marketplaces.” The study finds that the average decline in uninsured rates has been significantly higher in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility, a strong indication that leaders should consider ways to encourage states that have not yet expanded the program to do so.

President Biden, meanwhile, has just signed the largest expansion of health coverage since the Affordable Care Act. And, with separate steps already underway to reopen federal healthcare marketplaceseliminate ineffective red tape that can prevent Americans from accessing coverage options and urge the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the time has never been better to set aside proposals to create unaffordable, new one-size-fits-all government health insurance systems, and work together to build on the strength of employer-provided coverage, Medicare, Medicaid and other proven solutions that hundreds of millions of Americans depend on.

Lauren Crawford Shaver is the executive director of the Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future. 

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