By Erik Smith
With the midterms fast-approaching, health care remains top of mind for voters across the country. Yesterday, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and Morning Consult released a new poll highlighting a potential path forward to fix our health care system. All Americans, regardless of party affiliation, are concerned about their health care future and a majority of voters across the political spectrum support bipartisan efforts to fix our health care system.
When respondents were asked about how best to improve the American health care system, 29 percent support reforming the Affordable Care Act to lower costs and make it more affordable, compared to 17 percent who support the implementation of a Medicare For All system.
It is clear: Americans want their elected leaders to provide pragmatic, commonsense approaches to strengthening our health care system so it delivers affordability, expands options, improves access, and fosters innovation. We share the belief that all Americans should have access to affordable health care and that it is best done by strengthening the current system.
In addition to yesterday’s new poll, BPC outlined a series of principles from both political parties that can build on the strength of employer-provided health coverage and preserve Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that so many Americans depend on. The BPC principles state:
1. All individuals should have meaningful and affordable public or private health insurance.
We acknowledge a continuing role for both private and publicly-financed insurance. Regardless of the source of coverage, benefits should be evidence-based, and sufficient to ensure access to needed care, while avoiding poorly designed financial incentives that lead to either over or under-use of care. Low-and moderate-income households need to be adequately subsidized so that they can enroll in insurance plans that provide them with ready access to quality, affordable care when they need it.
2. Health reform should be designed to avoid major disruption because many patients rely on today’s long-standing arrangements to get needed care.
Reform should provide incentives for existing systems (employer sponsored, individual markets, Medicare, Medicaid) to align better, become more efficient, and improve quality and care relationships. Reform should expand, rather than reduce, the options individuals have to improve upon their existing coverage.
3. Insurance markets should be stable, not endangered by premium-increases due to adverse selection or insufficient pooling of risks.
This will require coping with extraordinarily expensive outlier health conditions through options such as adequately-financed and administered reinsurance, alternative tax credit structures and adequately-financed and structured high-risk pools. Reform proposals should ensure broad-based participation in private insurance markets to ensure pre-existing condition protections and market affordability and stability.
4. Health reform should reduce excessive and unnecessary health care cost growth.
This will require policies that are designed to achieve more effective competition among insurers and providers of medical services; promote more and clearer choices for consumers; encourage payment reforms that promote improvements in care; achieve more efficient delivery of care in all settings; and encourage preventive interventions that improve health status and outcomes.
5. Reform policies must be politically and financially sustainable over the long-term.
Bipartisan solutions are more likely than approaches supported primarily by one party to produce policies that can be sustained over many years and election cycles. The hard work of developing and securing bipartisan agreements in these areas will pay dividends in terms of greater stability and certainty for patients and their families, employers, providers, plans, governments and taxpayers.