The Affordable Care Act has made good progress in expanding health care access to millions of Americans. Next steps should focus on reducing health care costs while improving care both for Medicare and Medicaid patients and for the American people as a whole.
We should reward patients and physicians who choose treatments based on “comparative effectiveness,” which would minimize the need to pay for high-cost but low-effectiveness measures. Tremendous efficiencies can be built into the health care system with an across-the-board mandate for conversion to electronic record-keeping.
When the Medicare drug benefit was implemented, the federal government was specifically prohibited from negotiating the price of prescriptions. Medicaid faces no such restrictions. If Medicare could also negotiate drug prices as Medicaid does, it is estimated that the cost of Medicare would drop by at least $112 billion over 10 years.
We should also work to stop the widespread Medicare fraud in the system. The GAO estimates that $48 billion of Medicare reimbursements went to “improper payments” in 2010, amounting to 10 percent of the total Medicare payout in the year.
Congress should encourage innovation and research focused on continuous improvement in care at reduced cost.
My colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee and I are engaged in a robust effort to improve our health care system. First and foremost, the president’s Affordable Care Act must be repealed and replaced with reforms that will reduce exploding costs, increase access to quality services, save Medicare, and remove burdensome regulations.
Existing bureaucratic regulations slow down medical innovations and prevent job growth. Specifically, the approval process for prescription drugs and medical devices by the FDA takes too long, and does so at the expense of patients. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is conducting a series of hearings to address these burdensome regulations.
By eliminating inherent waste, fraud and abuse, we will be able to take important steps in reducing bloated costs. Limiting runaway lawsuits will cut down on defensive medicine and further drive down costs. When nearly 50 million Americans uninsured, we must be considering innovative solutions to cut expenses and ensure affordability. One such solution is widening state-run, high-risk insurance pools for those with pre-existing conditions. Enhancing the doctor-patient relationship and ensuring that Americans have greater transparency with their providers will similarly reduce health costs and access will necessarily increase.