Last week, my editorsat the Health Insurance Resource Center (Healthinsurance.org) challenged me to write a letter to President Obama and suggest what he should do next to advance reform. They were looking for a “new, big idea.”
After thinking about it, I concluded that we don’t need another big idea. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains a great many ideas. Now we need to implement them.
Critics of Obamacare have suggested that as we approach 2014, Washington needs to turn its attention to containing healthcare costs. In particular, they suggest that Medicare is too expensive.
But the fact is that if you read the legislation (and I have, more than once) , you’ll find that it already cuts Medicare spending by some $716 billion. And it does this without cutting medical benefits and without slashing Medicare’s reimbursements to doctors.
In addition, the ACA includes many carrots and sticks designed to encourage hospitals and doctors to provide more efficient, less costly, safer care. In the future they won’t be paid for doing More; they’ll be paid for doing it Better–for Less. Only health care providers have the power to truly reform our wasteful health care system. Already we’ve seen some evidence that they are responding to the incentives: Medicare spending has slowed.
Finally, and most importantly, President Obama should reject any attempts to re-negotiate the ACA during budget talks. The ACA is not on the table. It is now the law of the land. The American people do not want to listen to politicians continue to debate healthcare. (They want their elected leaders to focus their attention on just one Big Idea: Jobs)
The election gave the president the green light to go ahead with reform.. Now, the administration needs to implement the legislation to so that we can see what works and what doesn’t. This will take time–but only then will we be in a position to revise, refine and improve on reform legislation. .
I hope you’ll read the entire post--and come back here to comment.