This week, I spoke at the Press Club at the National Consumers League conference on the election and its impact on health care access. On my panel were NCL, AHIP, SEIU, PhRMA and National Partnership for Women and Families. That same day, I spoke to a group of strange bedfellows who came together to discuss the post-election environment.
For most of the rest of the week, I spoke to Committee and other Congressional staff and Members of Congress about the impact of the election on the issues we all care deeply about. What struck me was – regardless of whether the person was politically left, center, or right – everyone was searching for what the election meant for our country. Almost everyone viewed the political and policy horizon with uncertainty. Who will be deciding my issue? Can this or that provision be repealed through regulations? What does the lame duck hold?
To the extent the President-Elect’s agenda is known, his priorities on a range of issues important to business (particularly the health care industry) are not classically that of the ideological right.
What is clear, is that Obamacare will be modified – first repealed, then replaced with a plan that seeks to lower costs and improve access. Will it improve the coverage numbers? Your guess is as good as mine, but the answer is likely “no.” It doesn’t seem Republicans are ready to spend $1 trillion or more to cover as many people as Obamacare. Consider, however, that about 40 cents of every dollar is “wasted” on care that does little to improve a patient’s health (prescribing antibiotics for a viral infection) or that actually harms the patient (over-exposure to multiple x-rays). There should be a way to wring some excess costs out of the system and improve coverage numbers.
On Monday, we met with several CBO analysts to discuss this very issue. We are hopeful that in the coming debate over Obamacare, CAHC will play a major role in directing the solutions that will simultaneously lower costs, improve access and expand coverage. We have already started pulling ideas together. We are excited that you’re with us in this effort.
-Joel White, President