The Ripon Forum

Volume 43, No. 3

Summer 2009 Issue

News

By on December 3, 2015

The Ripon Society convenes its Second Bully Pulpit of the Year ON Health Care

by ALLISON BRENNAN

WASHINGTON, DC — With Congress debating the most drastic health care reform bill since 1965, The Ripon Society held its second Bully Pulpit Policy Discussion on health care on July 9, further examining the current debate. A panel of Congressmen and Association leader voiced its concern over the implication comprehensive health care reform will have on their constituents and industries.

Congressman John Fleming (LA-4) asserted that the largest point of contention between Republicans and Democrats is the single-payers option, “I think the question is: will it improve the competition atmosphere and drive prices down or will it increase them?”

The single-payer option which puts the onus on government to pay for individual health care has Fleming concerned it will create an uneven distribution of privilege and cause costs to rise. “We will end up with what Canada and the UK have today which is basically a public run system bloated with rationing and long lines you will have a second tier which is those who are privileged and those who can afford a very expensive private option.”

Arizona Congressman John Shadegg speaks at the Ripon Society Bully Pulpit on Health Care on July 9

Arizona Congressman John Shadegg speaks at the Ripon Society Bully Pulpit on Health Care on July 9

Fleming backed up his opposition to the single-payer system by introducing House Resolution 615. Challenging his Democratic Colleagues, Fleming told the Ripon Society of his resolution, “If you vote for a single-payer system, you must be willing to enroll in such a system which it becomes available.”

Congressman John Shadegg (AZ-3) who is also opposed to a single-payer over haul of the current health care system voiced his disagreement about the direction health care reform is headed, “I think [the Democrat’s plan] fundamentally has the entire issue wrong. i think this debate is not really about fixing health care in America it’s about two things: one, reining in cost and maybe as a subset, improving quality and covering those who aren’t covered…It’s not about people who have coverage and are happy,” Shadegg said, adding that 83 percent of Americans are content with their current health care.

Shadegg also discussed his “ImprovingHealthCareforAllAAmericansAct,” aimed at preserving competition among insurance companies and allowing the public to choose their own insurance carrier. “Everybody gets a choice but instead of having the government take away the [tax] exclusion, you let the individual decide if they want to keep their employer plan and the [tax] exclusion or if they want to take the tax credit and buy their own plan, giving the same level of competition and the same level of choice for every American.”

Responding to concern over rising costs in health care, Carrol Kelly, Senior Vice President at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) voiced several solutions to the panel, “In this whole context of health care reform, what we are trying to do is provide higher quality care at lower costs through something we call in the pharmaceutical industry… medication adherence.”

Medication adherence is a concept that stems from a study done by the National Council on Patient Information, finding that the health care system pays an additional $177 billion yearly because people who do not properly take their medication. One of the ways NACS promotes reducing costs with regard to medication adherence is through Medication Therapy Management. Said Kelly, “Medication Therapy Management is the opportunity for a pharmacist to work with a patient as a coach to make sure that they understand and that they take their medications and they’re on the right group of medications that don’t have contraindications.”

While Medication Therapy Management can be found in Medicare Part D, NACDS is working to standardize and codify the program further through CMS.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA), which serves the nursing home and assisted living industry, was represented on the panel by Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations ave Herbert. According to Herbert, the AHCA has asked Congress to make long term care a part of health care reform.

The industry represent 1.1 percent of the GDP, or $153 billion. It also employs 4.5 million people and is on of the only industries in today’s economy that is still hiring with 50-75,000 jobs open –  a fact Herbert made specific reference to in his remarks before the group.

“Our concern among other things,’ he stated, “is as a result of health care reform, they will essentially kill the golden goose. We could be hit with about $53 billion in cuts. That would be absolutely devastating. The impact of the house bill would cause us to lose 30,000 job, perhaps more.”

Herbert stated that Congress has repeatedly rejected the AHCA’s attempts to introduce their long term care proposal as a part of the 2009 health care reform. The AHCA’s plan would save the nursing home and assisted living industry $60 to $80 billion.

When offered up in talks, Hervert said that, “We have been told time and again that long term care will not be part of this discussion. We think that’s tragedy. Now is the time to strike if we are going to reform health care.”

In response to Hervet’s comments, Kelly questioned how comprehensive the present health care reform really is, “If we are spending $1 to $2 trillion on health care reform but we’re not addressing long term care, when are we going to address it?”

Health care reform is on a fast track. of this, Congressman Shadegg said, “I think the only way [health care reform] will stop is number one, it doesn’t pass before the August break…and two, the only way it would not pass is if the American people figure out what’s in it before there’s a vote on it.”

RF

Allison Brennan is an editorial assistant with The Ripon Forum.

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