The political arm for the network of groups led by Charles Koch is launching a multimillion-dollar advertising and lobbying campaign to promote changes to the health care system aimed at providing additional flexibility for health care workers and patients.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) plans to spend millions of dollars on television and digital advertising, lobbying efforts and engaging its 2.2 million activists to promote the changes, believing the health care industry’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has exposed deficiencies within the system.
AFP is seeking to increase access to telehealth by removing occupational licensing restrictions doctors currently face. The group will advocate to make permanent recent changes at the Food and Drug Administration that allow for more rapid testing, treatment and prevention of disease.
In addition, AFP will urge lawmakers to make it easier for patients to receive experimental and early phase treatments that have proven to be safe. And they’re promoting a Base Realignment and Closure-style commission to analyze restrictions within the health system they believe have hampered the response to the coronavirus.
The advertising and lobbying campaign will focus on the positive aspects of the proposed reforms, rather than drawing attention to faults in the current system.
“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed a tragic reality — America’s health care system actually stands in the way of doctors, nurses, and medical researchers helping people,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “It’s why the vast majority of Americans share our conviction that it is critical to empower medical professionals and innovators with the flexibility to get people the care they need. The current discussion on health care misses the point. Medicare for All and similar proposals only double down on the failures of a system that ties the hands of patients and caregivers. They don’t fix the problems that this crisis has revealed."
AFP pointed to a survey they commissioned through YouGov that shows strong public support for the principles behind their proposals.
The survey found that 83 percent of respondents believe the health care system needs to provide more flexibility for professionals responding to the pandemic.
The poll found that 58 percent said onerous rules and regulations are preventing health care professionals from giving patients the care they need. And it found that 78 percent support relaxing health care restrictions to allow more flexibility for doctors and nurses.
“America should take a different approach — one that removes barriers to innovation in our health care system and empowers health care professionals to save more lives,” Phillips said. “We’re starting to get a glimpse of what’s possible. As policymakers have temporarily waived some of the most harmful restrictions preventing health care from reaching those most in need, innovators have begun to rapidly develop testing options, telehealth has allowed patients to see doctors online, doctors and nurses are treating more patients, and hospitals are adding life-saving medical equipment. These waivers are saving people’s lives right now. Making them permanent will save people’s lives in the next crisis, too.”
Stand Together, which includes AFP and other groups affiliated with the Koch Network, has raised $30 million for coronavirus relief efforts. The groups have been using the money to give $500 cash payments directly to struggling families.