The GOP repeal effort is dead — time to fix ObamaCare, not kill it
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While the GOP repeal bill might be dead, lawmakers may not have killed the zombie bill. It is now incumbent on Congress to act to stabilize the insurance marketplace.

Time has run out and Americans need access to health insurance now. We need a two-part solution.

First, in the short term — stabilize the insurance marketplace and enact laws to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, and second come up with a long term solution — whether that is a continuation of ObamaCare or not.

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It is incumbent on our legislators to act now to ensure coverage for next year. Insurers and low income Americans need to be reassured that subsidies will be there for their coverage as they have been. All of us are worried about whether we will have coverage next year.

 

Congress could also add some teeth to the law.

Allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. This is a move that is long overdue. We are paying for the world’s medications in the United States. One step that could ensure lowering of medication costs would be to outlaw direct to consumer advertising.

This is one of the largest expenditures by pharmaceutical companies. They try to say it is drug development but that is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Marketing is their biggest cost.

Congress should also push for a public option.

This was in the original version of the Affordable Care Act and now with counties that have no insurers it is time to put it back in.

Allow people to buy into Medicare.

This would also help in marketplaces that have had huge cost shifting – enormous premiums combined with large deductibles.

This step would then allow adding stronger penalties for no insurance. We need healthy people in the pools.

Those steps would then allow time to develop a long term strategy. Clearly we need to address not just medication costs but imaging and other procedures. The United States does need an overhaul of how healthcare services are paid for to ensure that the quality care we are capable of reaches everyone.

One solution that I proposed on Fox News recently is a hybrid solution.Use Medicare to cover preventive services and catastrophic care (trauma and emergency surgery).

Allow insurers to create more products like Medicare Advantage plans at different levels of coverage that people will be free to purchase or not.

Since these products are already sold across the country there is already a diverse pool. In doing this Congress would need to ensure that premium dollars really go to coverage and not to executive salaries and stockholders.

Simultaneously explore payment options like Direct Primary Care that clearly save money. Right now those payments are paid by patients but there is no reason that they could not be tax deductible or paid for by Medicare on a contractual level instead of fee for service.

Whatever solutions are developed cannot happen in a week or two and be crammed through. This needs to be a bipartisan initiative with public hearings.

What kind of society are we if we do not care for our infirmed and continue to allow bankruptcy from health costs?

I implore our elected officials to put patients over politics.

Dr. Cathleen London is physician based in Maine who developed a cost-effective alternative to the standard EpiPen in response to skyrocketing prices. London has been an on-air contributor on Fox News and local television stations around the nation. Her healthcare innovations have been featured in the New York Times.


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