Where is all this healthcare reform talk headed in 2017?
With all the talk about “repealing and replacing” Obamacare, the real question is, where is this all going?
In late January, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Patient Freedom Act of 2017 (PFA) as a potential replacement plan for Obamacare. Their proposal puts more power back in the states while keeping many of the same Obamacare protections like prohibiting any exclusions due to pre-existing conditions.
However, with no real commitments from the new Administration yet, Americans get to sit back and watch to see if any plans actually gain traction. But left with only media sound bites, expectations have begun to rise.
Expectations about cutting drug costs
Medicine costs are typically higher in the U.S. than any other country and the new administration is expected to change that. At the end of January, President Trump met with pharmaceutical companies to talk about cutting drug prices, lowering regulation and bringing back more companies to the United States.
Expectations of giving greater Medicaid control to the states
The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was met with mixed opinions with many Governors and state legislatures outright rejecting it. The new Administration is expected to turn Medicaid over to the states, giving them more freedom to construct programs better-suited to the needs of their own state.
Expectations on the growth of health savings account.
The Trump administration’s new healthcare program is also expected to include a wider use of Health Savings Accounts (HSA). These accounts offer a tax-free way to save money to pay for medical costs. In fact, members of the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority board have already voted to require any insurers that sell coverage through the district’s exchange to offer HSA compatible bronze plans for 2018.
So, where is it all going?
All we know for sure right now is that there’s a promise for something better. As Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in a recent PBS NewsHour Interview, “Remember the promises of Obamacare: lower prices, more choices … We believe we can make good on those kinds of promises, which is improve access to affordable health care coverage.”
Hopefully, with the confirmation of Tom Price for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the administration can make some real progress.
Maybe then, Americans can finally start to see where this is all headed.