Health Care Experts Weigh in on the Future of Health Policy
A day after the House narrowly passed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Rice University’s Baker Institute Center for Health and Biosciences hosted Friday a panel discussion, titled “Delivering Health Care When Future Health Policy is Unpredictable.”
“We planned for this event a little after President Trump was elected,” said moderator Vivian Ho, Ph.D., James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics and director of the Center for Health and Biosciences at the Baker Institute. “Right after that happened, we got requests from a number of our round table members, asking, ‘What is going on in health care? We’d like to hear what people on the front lines are dealing with this.’”
The discussion featured a panel of representatives from three health care organizations—Benjamin K. Chu, M.D., president and CEO of the Memorial Hermann Health System; Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America; and Robert Morrow, M.D., Southeast Texas Market president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas—to weigh in on the changing landscape of health care and what measures need to be taken in the near future to make sure Americans have access to affordable health care.
The conversation is especially important given that the House-approved health care bill could potentially take away Medicaid coverage from millions of Americans and make it unaffordable to purchase coverage in state marketplaces.
“The real focus has to be: What is the value to our patients? How do we actually deal with delivering what’s necessary to reach their medical needs?” Chu said. “We’re trying create a policy in our part of our world that has to encompass all of this and figure out ways to pay for it in a manner that is based on equity principles, as well as making sure that the resources used are judicious.”
Filipic, who leads the nonprofit and nonpartisan health care enrollment coalition Enroll America, supported Chu’s emphasis on a patient-focused health care policy.
“It’s important that the needs of consumers remain at the forefront of this discussion,” Filipic said. “It’s always striking how much it often isn’t at the forefront of conversations in Washington about health care and that Americans continue to make our voices heard, encouraging our leaders to work together to improve access to affordable health care rather than taking it away. … No matter what comes next—whether we successfully preserve the Affordable Care Act entirely or is repaired or changed via repeal and replace or something else entirely—the needs of consumers must be front and center as we move forward.”
Many proponents of the Affordable Care Act, including Filipic, agree that it wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was a step in the right direction.
“Now the Senate holds incredible power to determine if we will continue to make forward progress and build upon our gains that we’ve seen over the last several years. It’s certainly not a perfect system,” Filipic said. “But I think the proposal that we see in front of us is not the answer.”
Ho will moderate another event, titled “The Future of Obamacare: Knowns and Unknowns,” on June 9 at the Baker Institute Center for Health and Biosciences to discuss the current state of health care in the U.S. under the Affordable Care Act and what measures can be taken in the future to improve it.