The Affordable Care Act was not perfect—nor was it intended to be that way. Full repeal or failure of the current system would take us back to a time when an unexpected illness would bankrupt a family and emergency rooms were full of parents seeking basic care for their children. Instead, everyone should welcome the opportunity to make necessary adjustments to the framework of our current system. When we do, the fixes must be bipartisan.
I strongly believe that with certain reforms and a recommitment to policies that work, we can improve the individual market and make healthcare more affordable. These include making federal reinsurance programs permanent, providing long-term funding for cost-sharing reduction payments, and finding ways to boost the participation of young, healthy enrollees in the marketplace.
Without federal reinsurance programs, insurers with sicker enrollees would have to charge higher premiums to all their customers to stem their financial losses. That means larger subsidies being paid by the federal government and higher out-of-pocket costs for everyone. Congress should reauthorize and make permanent federal reinsurance programs to protect insurers against the costliest medical claims.
Insurers currently don't know what will happen with cost-sharing reduction payments from month to month, and that leads to higher premiums. President Trump ended cost-sharing reduction payments and as a result, premiums across the country have spiked. Congress should end the uncertainty and work together to ensure consistent funding for the payments over time.
To keep insurance available and premiums down (and reduce risk in markets), we need to encourage young, healthy people to buy insurance. Congress could authorize an automatic enrollment system that would provide basic primary-care, catastrophic illness or injury coverage for young individuals who do not purchase insurance.
There can—and should—be conversations about what the future of healthcare looks like. There will continue to be real differences on policy and ideology, but Congress should seek common ground and fixes that are not purely partisan. Long-term stabilization that's necessary to drive down costs requires a concerted effort from both parties.
These are solutions that members of both parties can support, and they should be the starting point for a bipartisan, open process to protect what is working in our healthcare system and fix what isn't. Maybe then, instead of playing games with people's healthcare, Congress could stop trying to revive partisan bills, and instead build on our healthcare system.