First as a candidate and then in the early days of his tenure, President Barack Obama proposed big changes for the U.S. healthcare system. They mostly consisted of slogans and promises, lacking much specificity as to how his plan could guarantee insurance, lower premiums, and protect individual choices all at the same time.
Nevertheless, his party and the media cheered him on. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously argued at the time, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
Fast-forward to last week when President Trump unveiled his own health system overhaul, the America First Healthcare Plan. Unsurprisingly, the Democrats and media who were unphased by Obama’s lack of detail are now demanding specifics.
In truth, Trump’s healthcare plan is exceedingly specific in its diagnosis of all the damage Obamacare has wreaked upon the country and the solutions to reverse it.
Obamacare is a monument of broken promises: You can keep your doctor, you can keep your health plan, the average family will save $2,500 per year, and so on. In the end, Obama’s legislative legacy was nothing more than a boon for the insurance industry. It dramatically increased healthcare costs, reduced access to services and providers, and limited choices.
One heartbreaking example of the design flaw found in Obamacare is that if someone receives a cancer diagnosis, none of the centers of excellence (Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, and Memorial Sloan Kettering) are in-network in any of the law’s health insurance exchanges. That prevents patients who bought insurance from the exchange from choosing the best cancer centers in the country.
Obamacare’s failure is so apparent to those on the Left that they’re openly advocating for a complete governmental takeover of our healthcare system. Supporters of “Medicare-for-all” have even pushed the Affordable Care Act’s last remaining supporter, Joe Biden, to add a “Medicare for all for those who want it” public option to his own policy positions. That would finally crowd out private insurance, as employers are given the opportunity to give workers a healthcare stipend and send them to the Medicare exchanges. The Left has essentially admitted that it was not able to convince the insurance companies, along with a maddeningly complex army of middlemen, to be party to their own demise, and so the government must control it all now.
The forgotten person in all of this is the patient, who will pay for a decade’s worth of mistakes and corruption with skyrocketing costs and possibly their lives. That’s where the America First Healthcare Plan comes in.
It’s the patient whom Trump had in mind, not the insurance companies or federal regulators, when he outlined the plan. It focuses on reforms that specifically address what patients want: lower costs, more options, and better care.
Patient choice and control are at the heart of Trump’s plan. It includes alternative forms of coverage, such as association health plans and short-term limited duration plans. It invests in telehealth services, which have been critical for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. It gives major discounts to seniors for their prescription drugs. The plan increases access to direct primary care, which all but eliminates the insurance bureaucracy that decides what patients will and won’t get.
Perhaps most importantly, it requires price transparency, so patients know what services and procedures cost before they are forced to pay for them. It tips the scales in favor of patients to lower premiums and the cost of care. There will be no more surprise billing bankrupting families.
Biden instead promises to double down on the failures of Obamacare and make them worse with his own Medicare-for-all scheme thrown in.
The American people won’t have to wait to see what’s in the president’s healthcare plan because much of it is already being set out and implemented through executive orders. It’s now up to Congress to stop protecting the insurance companies and federal bureaucracy and ensure that these patient-first reforms are permanently written into law.