It is true that some of us were wishing the American Health Care Act would just go away. Friday has shown us that sometimes wishes do come true.
Medical Monday per se will be delayed one day in order to better report on this momentous news of late Friday. We will want to see reactions from all the various sectors on this important development.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, represented progress. It gave us the individual mandate, requiring us all to have insurance or pay penalties. It gave us the contraceptive mandate, which data clearly shows saves money and unplanned pregnancies. It gave us subsidies and more. However it is unclear how sustainable it will be since it is costly. The new more fiscally conservative administration, at their very best, could scrutinize the program further for cost saving measures.
While we are wishing, I will put out some of my best thoughts on the matter.
"Best Practices Health Care Act"
(This title implies policies will be driven by data, and not politicians.)
1. Keep the individual mandate and make the penalties stiffer. (Similar to auto insurance.) Give it real teeth.
2. Keep the contraceptive mandate. This means birth control will have no copays. Drive prices of contraceptives down by allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.
3. Separate abortion services out of Planned Parenthood and continue to fund the great preponderance of what services remain.
4. Keep children on policies until 27. Consider allowing even older family members, but raise premiums accordingly.
5. Charge increased premiums for risk factors ( similar to life insurance) such as smoking, alcohol use, obesity, drug use. Also charge increased premiums for high risk sports such as skiing, paragliding, horseback riding, etc. Charge increased premiums for those with bad driving records.
6. For Medicaid recipients, require small copays and, for the able bodied, work and/or service.
7. Government may negotiate prices on all drugs.
8. Fully fund preventive services without copays, i.e. encourage and reward prevention in every possible way. This would include annual exams, cancer screening, dexa scans (screening for osteoporosis or bone thinning) and vaccinations.
8. Create a combined sliding scale of subsidies for the poor and tax credits for the rich.
9. Keep low risk and high risk patients together in one pool.
10. Reward participation (lower premiums) in accredited health programs.
11. Manage medical malpractice expenses aggressively, keeping as many health care dollars out of the hands of lawyers as possible. This might involve caps on lawyer fees, and caps on malpractice awards. This might mean mediation is required before litigation.
This is just a start of ideas, that I, as a physician, think we need to think about. Stay tuned to see what the rest of the world thinks about this development.