The latest version of health care legislation before the U.S. Senate remains very dangerous for American consumers, and we urge a “no” vote.
The bill known as Graham-Cassidy contains some new elements, such as provisions that give state governments more authority over health care financing and consumer protections. But the basic problems with the previous versions in the House and Senate remain. This bill threatens to spark chaos in health insurance markets, raise costs, degrade quality of care, weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and cause millions of Americans to lose health coverage.
Most importantly, this bill doesn’t even begin to address the biggest problems with the American health care system, starting with the fact that our health care system still fails to provide consumers with an acceptable value proposition.
To get to a health care system that delivers value for consumers, we need to start holding the health care industry to a higher standard on cost and quality; we need to reform a broken pharmaceutical development system that’s leading to skyrocketing drug costs; we need to invest in prevention and empower patients to keep themselves healthy and out of the hospital. This legislation does none of these things, and should be rejected.
Although providing states with flexibility to design their own health care financing systems could in theory open opportunities for states to pursue efforts to improve the value proposition of health care, tying this flexibility to massive budget cuts and an unrealistically short implementation timetable for states—only two years to overhaul 1/6 of the economy—is far more likely to lead to chaos than to productive policymaking. In the chaos caused by this legislation, experts predict that premiums will go up even further and health insurers may exit markets. The health care system as a whole will be in an even worse position to make the changes American consumers desperately need.
We urge the Senate to go back to the drawing board and put together a real plan to make health care work better for American consumers.