Solving the Health Care Crisis in a Bill That Works for Everyone
More than two decades ago, when my son Eli was just one month old, he contracted an extremely contagious illness known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus. When he didn’t respond to treatment, doctors recommended four to five doses of a new, uninsured antiviral drug costing $5,000 per dose.
Americans across the country are experiencing similar situations at an alarmingly increasing rate. Necessary healthcare services are outrageously expensive, but economics go out the window when your loved one requires care.
As parents, my wife and I were grateful for any available treatment, and we okayed the drug with little thought of how we would pay for it. Our only concern was for the health of our son. Thankfully, the drugs worked and our once deathly sick infant graduated college last year.
Healthcare affects every American, comprises nearly one-fifth of the U.S. economy, and accounts for one in four dollars spent by Uncle Sam. Access to quality, affordable medical care should be something all elected officials can agree to work on, because it’s something we all believe in. Yet in the nearly 10 years since the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s unparalleled medical accomplishments, facilities, researchers, and providers have become associated with political tension, gridlock, and upheaval. As a result, it’s a topic no one in Congress embraces enthusiastically.
Still, someone must do something. I might not be the most likely candidate, but I am a representative whose constituents are struggling. Perhaps it’s time for some new energy in the debate.
For the last year, I’ve been compiling a set of reforms I believe the Left and the Right can support. My legislation, the Fair Care Act, has two primary goals: to increase the number of people with health insurance coverage, and to decrease per person health spending. It’s a fair solution covering pre-existing conditions, tackling the cost of insurance premiums, and increasing consumer flexibility.
Here’s a look at some of the bill’s highlights:
Title 1: Private Sector Health Insurance Reforms
Data show that a small percentage of the insured population accounts for most healthcare expenditures. This bill creates an Invisible High-Risk Pool Reinsurance Program to pay medical costs of the highest risk individuals in insured populations. It does not affect patients or the services they receive—it just shifts some of the risk of paying for care to the government, allowing insurers to charge less for all private insurance coverage.
Title 2: Medicare and Medicaid Reforms that Promote Solvency and Increase Access to Health Insurance Plans
This portion of the bill preserves Medicare while fulfilling obligations to people who have funded the program for decades. It also allows Medicaid to fulfill its original purpose of providing for aged and disabled individuals while providing able-bodied, working-age adults private insurance plans through exchanges.
Title 3: Promote Transparency and Competition to Lower Prescription Drug Costs
It’s clear that the red tape surrounding experimental drugs and prescription drugs in general needs to be addressed. Patients with severe illnesses deserve access to medicine that could save their lives. That’s why the bill eliminates delays surrounding generic drugs and biosimilar products by providing more efficient processes.
Title 4: Increase Competition and Lower Costs by Discouraging Provider Monopolies
These provisions center on hospitals, providing incentives to promote hospital and provider competition and encouraging hospitals to reduce costs. Medical clinics and hospitals are the healthcare system’s first line of defense. Patients in rural and urban areas should have access to the best care at a fair cost.
Title 5: Digital Health Care Reforms
This section establishes policy allowing for increased use of innovative technologies—options in telemedicine, for example. Rural areas often struggle to attract providers. When facilities can use video messaging services to provide certain types of care, they essentially eliminate geographic and time zone constraints. Policies in Titles 3, 4, and 5 work together to promote a healthcare delivery system that works for all while allowing innovators freedom to take our healthcare to the next level.
Explaining the nuances of the Fair Care Act would take far more than one op-ed, but I’m excited to start a national conversation. I’m introducing this bill because healthcare issues can and should be fixed. The negative effects are too wide and too deep for us to keep sitting around arguing. We can retreat to our political corners and watch taxpayers suffer the brunt of bad healthcare policy, or we can use ideas from both parties to build a fair, solid framework that is best for all.
Regardless of your political affiliation, if you seek healthcare or pay taxes, this bill is for you. We have little to no control over sudden health issues or preexisting conditions, but we are right to expect access to fair care. That we can control.