The 115th Congress on the State of Healthcare, a collection of commentaries from members of Congress, is intentionally timed close to the midterm elections this year. In just over a month, voters will take to the polls to decide whether the Senate and House will remain controlled by Republicans; if the GOP prevails that would likely give new momentum to the campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Yet the number of people who continue to be affected by rising premiums on the marketplace is marginally low. Those who may be affected by Congress eliminating provisions that prevent underwriting based on pre-existing conditions and encouraging people to buy skimpy health plans is greater. Poll after poll has shown that plans to lower drug prices, Medicare and Medicaid funding are top of mind for voters. And while the U.S. adopting a universal health plan might seem unrealistic, look no further than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's primary win in New York to see that her stance on healthcare supported her victory.
But let's face it, Americans are fed up with the cost of healthcare, especially when compared to what we get in return. At $3.4 trillion, healthcare spending is now 18% of the nation's gross domestic product. Americans are increasingly responsible for a bigger chunk of these costs. Deductibles can soar as high as more than $6,000 for one person to more than $13,000 for a family of four. Meanwhile, the U.S. claims the lowest life expectancy and the highest childhood mortality rate among comparable developed nations.
As House Ways and Means Committee Health Subcommittee member Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) states well in his op-ed (p. 20): “Failure to act is not fair to the people we were all sent to Washington, D.C., to represent. In fact, it is inexcusable. While politicians talk, Americans suffer. This is what is wrong with our politics today.”
The lawmakers and healthcare organization leaders who contributed to this collection of commentaries know what's at stake in the midterms and beyond. Our readers, high-level executives at hospitals, healthcare systems, insurance companies and the vendors who serve them, are vigilant and well-prepared for what's to come. Similarly, our team in D.C.—bureau chief Virgil Dickson covering rules and regulations and reporter Susannah Luthi covering Capitol Hill—is on guard and ready to cover the role of healthcare issues in the elections and its aftermath. We hope to continue to be your independent source to learn how to weather these changes and the responsibilities of each of your sectors and committee appointments. To stay up to date, be sure to bookmark ModernHealthcare.com for the latest industry news, analysis, research and data.
And please, feel free to share your feedback on this week's issue by emailing me at [email protected].
Thank you for your continued readership.
In addition to reading the Congressional commentaries online, you can also download a PDF of the entire Modern Healthcare Congressional Supplement here.