Government must act as a reliable business partner
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At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we believe that a strong economy driven by the private sector is critical to competition, innovation and advancement — not just for business generally but also for our healthcare system.

Our country’s private health insurance market must continue to be the cornerstone of any effort to provide people with better access to healthcare services, to reduce unnecessary costs, to improve the quality of care delivered, and to achieve healthy outcomes.

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Our organization and members have a long tradition of advancing priorities and policies that strengthen free markets generally and promote greater competition, innovation, and affordability within our healthcare system. As ongoing discussions about the future of our healthcare system continue, it’s important that Congress not lose sight of its commitment to these beliefs.

Our country has seen tremendous changes in the delivery and payment of healthcare in the last six years. Carriers, providers, and payers have all struggled to comply with new legislative and regulatory requirements, which were intended to improve access to healthcare coverage and services.

New mandated benefit requirements and limitations on premium variation in the past several years have driven up health insurance premiums in many states. Other provisions expanded coverage to millions of Americans, many of whom were previously uninsured. As elected officials return to Washington for the lame-duck session to assess the future and prepare for a new administration, we urge careful and measured action.

While there are legitimate questions about the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of our current healthcare system, Congress should not engage in actions that negatively impact American businesses or the people they serve.

One proposal of particular concern in the short-term involves calls to alter the current premium stabilization and risk-sharing programs. Failing to continue to implement these programs will have a crippling impact on the private health insurance market, which should ultimately be the backbone of any Republican solution to this nation’s healthcare challenges.

Let’s not forget: When these stabilization programs began, private sector companies were required to reduce the cost of their products by lowering premiums up front and paying medical claims in full. The programs were designed to provide a critical backstop for companies that incur high-cost and unexpected claims.

Changing these programs after the fact would be an abandonment of the basic principle that if private companies are playing by the rules, the government must act as a good business partner and hold up its end of the deal. To be sure, private companies in many industries make business decisions based on agreed-upon rules.

The government cannot expect businesses or even whole industry sectors to function properly if changes are unexpectedly made to those rules in the middle of already negotiated products and agreements.

The underlying fact is that all that will best position the private sector to meet the needs of new healthcare consumers. Government should be committed to working with the private sector to achieve that goal.

Bruce Josten is the executive vice president for Government Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.