ObamaCare must be fixed before it collapses
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President Trump this week took to Twitter to bring the healthcare debate back to the forefront of conversation. In his familiar dramatic style, the president wrote, “If our healthcare plan is approved, you will see real healthcare and premiums will start tumbling down. ObamaCare is in a death spiral!"

While many may not want to admit it, President Trump is correct. While policy makers disagree on the solution, the problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) need to be fixed before the system collapses. The lack of choices, skyrocketing premiums, and growing burdens on physicians are impacting all Americans regardless of their insurance or health.

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In a week that began with discussions of tax overhauls and funding for a border wall, and could end with a government shutdown as we pass Trump’s first 100 days in office, one would think that healthcare reform would be on the back burner. Considering the failure of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last month and recent polling that shows that the more Republicans try to fix ObamaCare, the more popular it gets, it is amazing so many have withstood the pressure and stayed in this fight.

 

Trump should be applauded for continuing to move forward on this issue. Republicans defending their positions at town hall meetings deserve recognition too. Sticking with a right and just cause, even when is feels like a losing battle, is admirable. However, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

So, what should be done differently?

The lack of physician input in creating solutions to the healthcare mess is a good start. However, costs for medical care itself have yet to be adequately addressed.

Dr. Hal Scherz, the founder of Docs4PatientCare Foundation, said recently that “the entirety of the healthcare debate is focused on insurance and coverage, instead of the elephant in the room, which is the high cost of the care patients receive. Unless healthcare costs are dramatically reduced, no changes in how people purchase insurance is going to result in meaningful improvement in overall healthcare costs.”

A recent meeting between Dr. Scherz and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price “focused on the regulatory burden on doctors and the necessity of freeing physicians to spend more time with patients.”

Dr. Scherz has a point. What better way to bring down medical costs than to reduce obstacles to providing it? Perhaps it is time to argue for deregulating doctors.

Roadblocks to the “repeal and replace” of ObamaCare have proven difficult for even the most conservative Freedom Caucus members. Rather than tinker with details, Republicans should realize that there is no shame in changing strategy if you stay true to the core objective. And deregulation is something everyone in the GOP will embrace.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who seems to be on the physician deregulation bandwagon, recently wrote that “the heart of the problem is the Washington-created, one-size-fits-all regulations that treat Utah’s unique population the same as that of Florida or Massachusetts. Each of our 50 states has different populations with different health care needs. There is no reason we should all be forced to buy the same ‘essential health benefit’ package when we shop for health insurance.”

When it comes to deregulation, the doctors already have a head start on the politicians. Many physicians have begun to adopt a direct primary care (DPC) model where patients pay a flat fee to their doctor and avoid going through insurance for basic care. By taking the insurance regulations out of the picture, it saves doctors time and patients money. Imagine the improvements and savings if some of the government regulations were eased too.

Lower costs and better care – that’s something everyone can support. Staying true to a campaign promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare with slight strategy adjustments that entail deregulating doctors isn’t just a win – it’s a bonus. Who knows, with this new approach, maybe healthcare reform could come this week.

Dan Rene is a senior vice president in the public affairs practice at LEVICK, a strategic communications firm.


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