Five Things Lawmakers Should Require in Any Health Care Reform Bill
By Dr. Bob McClure
As the third largest state in the nation and one with an increasingly aging demographic, it’s safe to say that health care reform is an important topic in Florida. So important, in fact, that Florida Governor Rick Scott is in Washington D.C. right now to help provide input and insight into how health care reform can best be accomplished through repealing and replacing the failing “Affordable Care Act.”
At the James Madison Institute, we spend a great deal of time reviewing health care policies and looking at the impacts – both positive and negative – that every law has or may have. We understand that this is a complex issue requiring policymakers across the conservative spectrum to decide where they’re willing to compromise and what is non-negotiable in any specific policy proposal. Amid the health care reform debate, we have identified five things that conservative policymakers should require be included in any legislation that reaches the desk of President Trump:
Allow individual choice. Any new policy must move our health care system in a direction that expands individuals’ abilities to access quality health care in the setting best suited to their circumstances. The Obamacare marketplace has done the exact opposite, leaving one in five Obamacare consumers with only one insurance provider option and people in at least 47 counties with no provider options at all. This lack of choice and competition will only continue to get worse as major insurance providers cut participation or entirely opt out of Obamacare within the next year.
Encourage innovation. Each state is different, and reforms should offer states like Florida the flexibility to innovate to address our expanding shortage of physicians, specialists, and health care professionals. This will occur when we cut red tape and push a greater share of decision-making to the state level, closer to the people impacted most by health policy.
Reform Medicaid. New legislation must reform Medicaid into a block grant program that enables Florida policymakers to determine the best path forward to serving our most vulnerable. Medicaid is a fiscal albatross, comprising nearly 10 percent of the federal budget, costing $574 billion in 2016 (and rising) on the federal and state levels. It consumes roughly one-third of Florida’s budget. Without significant reform efforts, our federal debt will continue its upward climb and our states will be forced to make difficult decisions on whether to fund critical programs or the skyrocketing cost of Medicaid services.
Eliminate the individual mandate. The individual mandate is both onerous and stifling. The Congressional Budget Office, in its review of the Senate Bill, predicted that ending the individual mandate would lead 15 million Americans to cancel insurance policies, coverage only obtained as an alternative to paying a tax. Americans should be free to choose how they access care without having to worry about getting hit with an IRS penalty.
Reduce barriers and regulatory red tape. New policies must lower regulations and barriers to people getting the care they need, as opposed to insurance the government tells them they must have. An example is allowing insurers to sell coverage across state lines, which would greatly help to increase competition and lower costs.
These reforms, coupled with a safety net for individuals who – through no fault of their own –are without access to coverage when they require care is necessary for a productive health care framework. The failed experiment of Obamacare has illustrated above all else that a one-size-fits-all federal program will not work. Our local communities – in Florida and elsewhere – face unique challenges and need policymakers to enact solutions that get right to the heart of those issues.
Negotiations and debate will undoubtedly continue on the national health policy stage for the foreseeable future, but free market and limited government principles are tried and tested and will ultimately be instrumental in helping policymakers craft meaningful health care reform.
JMI will continue to engage both Florida policymakers and stakeholders in D.C. to offer our thoughts about how we can best create an environment where people can have access to affordable, quality health care.