George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

McClure: F⁠i⁠ve essen⁠t⁠⁠i⁠al elemen⁠t⁠s of heal⁠t⁠h care reform

By: Dr. J. Robert McClure / 2017

While political parties may not agree on much when it comes to health care, they can agree that the current system is ineffective and unsustainable unless significant changes are made. In any health care discussion, the trifecta of key issues must include access, careand cost.

At the James Madison Institute, we spend a great deal of time reviewing health care policies to consider the impacts each law may have. We understand health care is a complex issue, requiring policymakers across the political spectrum to make difficult decisions.

Within the health care debate, we have identified five essential elements that policymakers should require in any legislation that reaches President Trump’s desk.

Allow individual choice. Any new policy must move our healthcare system in a direction that expands individuals’ ability 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 American consumers with only one insurance provider. This lack of options drives up costs dramatically while inhibiting access. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Americans have no available provider. This lack of choice and competition will only worsen as major insurance providers continue to withdraw from Obamacare.

Encourage innovation. Each state has its own unique characteristics. Reforms should offer diverse states like Florida the flexibility to innovate while addressing a growing shortage of physicians, specialistsand other health care professionals. Innovation can occur when red tape is cut and the system pushes a greater share of decision-making to the state level, closer to the people most impacted by health policy.

Reform Medicaid. New legislation must reform Medicaid. In a block grant program, Floridians, not Washington bureaucrats, would be empowered to determine the best path forward for serving our state’s most vulnerable. Medicaid devoured nearly 10 percent of the federal budget at a cost of $574 billion in 2016. It consumes roughly one-third of Florida’s budget. Without significant reforms, our federal debt will continue its relentless upward climb while states will be forced to make difficult choices between paying the skyrocketing cost of Medicaid services or funding other critical programs.

Eliminate the individual mandate. The theory here is that access to coverage is access to care. That is simply not true. The individual mandate only serves to drive up costs and reduce access for all Americans by requiring needless coverage or duplicative services. Citizens should be free to choose the best doctor and the best care without having to worry about getting a call from the IRS.

Reduce barriers and regulatory red tape. New policies must lower barriers so that patients, not insurance companies or politicians, have power over their own health care and can get the care they need.

The famous definition of insanity is ”Doing the same things over and over, while expecting different results.” We’ve seen this play out as government has continued to increase its paternalistic role in the health care system over the last 60 years.

The failed experiment of Obamacare and other idioms of command and control health care have illustrated time and again that a one-size-fits-all program simply never works.

J. Robert McClure, Ph.D., is president and CEO of The James Madison Institute, a statewide think tank based in Tallahassee devoted to research and education on public policy issues.