By Robert Pearl, MD | Forbes.com | November 11, 2016
In the coming days, you’ll likely see many, many experts – most of whom got the election prediction wrong – opine on what President Trump and Congress will seek to do in a variety of policy areas. Given our modern pundits’ track records, about the only thing we can be sure of about those predictions is that most will be wrong.
Many will be guessing, or piecing together bits of policy and analysis from primary and secondary sources, to try to draw conclusions. The wiser course is to allow Mr. Trump himself to tell us what he intends to do in some of the areas that matter the most – the availability and affordability of high quality health care in America in the future. We eagerly await hearing from the President-elect as to his plans around health reform, Medicare, supporting quality improvements, and many other areas.
I’ve already written about the challenges and opportunities the next president will face in the health care arena, and that list hasn’t changed with the outcome of the election. Our nation has a long list of goals we need to work together to achieve in health care, and with the election now behind us, the time is ripe to resume progress on many of those areas.
What will be most important for the nation to address is the underlying rise in healthcare costs. This has hurt American jobs and wages, and to we need to work together to figure out a path to flatten the rate of healthcare inflation.
Other key areas for health policy focus are Medicare reimbursements, the future of the Medicaid expansion, subsidies for low-income individuals and families to help them afford coverage, and the individual mandate. The rising price of prescription drugs in the United States is not sustainable at current levels, and must be addressed.
Coverage, although essential, is no longer the fundamental problem in American medicine. Instead, the widespread unhappiness reflects other major problems with the current system. We will need to find ways to continue improving the lives of people by providing insurance coverage and helping families avoid bankruptcy when major medical problems arise. And at the same time, we will have to implement approaches that drive increased competition and improved performance.
Beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, presidents have talked about healthcare as a fundamental human need. Candidates once elected have the chance to make a positive difference. We can be healthy as a nation only if we are healthy as people. I and other healthcare leaders from across the nation stand ready to help.
This article originally appeared in Dr. Pearl’s column on Forbes.com.