Republican Study Committee Offers Good Healthcare Ideas for Our Recovery | Citizens Against Government Waste

Republican Study Committee Offers Good Healthcare Ideas for Our Recovery

The WasteWatcher

Today, the House Republican Study Committee (RSC) released a series of “letters,” entitled “A Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity,” that were sent to House and Senate leaders.  Their ideas could not have come soon enough.  The goals are to:  Eliminate barriers to employment and get Americans back to work; Flatten the debt curve and protect the nation’s fiscal health; Hold China accountable for its harmful actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic; Strengthen the U.S. health care system and ensure health care providers have the supplies they need; and, Improve efficiency and accountability in the federal government’s ongoing response to COVID-19. 

Certainly, due to COVID-19, we are living in extraordinary times that has required unprecedented spending by the federal government to keep businesses afloat and save jobs.  Through no fault of their own, thousands of businesses have been ordered to shut down by the federal government and states with “stay at home” orders to prevent an overwhelming crush on our healthcare system by coronavirus victims.  More than $2.5 trillion in additional spending, an unprecedent amount of fiscal relief, has been spent.  Millions of Americans are unemployed, fast approaching Great Depression Levels.

Ten days ago, President Trump and his White House Coronavirus Task Force released a three-step plan on “Opening Up America Again” in a safe way and governors are doing so, depending on the individual conditions in their respective states.  This was the first official signal it is time for the U.S. to get back to normal.

The RSC understands that our nation cannot continue to spend trillions or billions of dollars every other week without causing severe harm to our long-term fiscal health.  Their framework adopts several sound policies that have been worked on and developed in the past year.  It is composed of five pillars or issue areas written by their task forces which are:  Budget and spending; National Security and Foreign Affairs; Health Care; Government Efficiency, Accountability, and Reform; and, American Worker.

The Health Care Task Force letter list ten policy options that would provide more flexibility in our healthcare system and would incentivize free market solutions to keep it strong, competitive, and innovative.  Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) believes the options have merit and deserve consideration.

CAGW was particularly pleased to see that one recommendation includes suspending the requirement that Health Savings Accounts (HSA) be linked to a high-deductible health plan.  HSAs are good investments, make consumers prudent shoppers for healthcare, and help to drive down costs.

It was also good to see that the RSC has called for a Pharmaceutical Chief Negotiator at the United States Trade Representative to “address protectionist measures that could disrupt supply chains or freeload on innovative investment.”  This is an issue that CAGW has wanted addressed for some time.  Often U.S. pharmaceutical prices are compared to those found overseas and our politicians attempt to pass laws to adopt these extraordinarily low prices.  Proponents neglect to mention that these countries have socialized medicine, or single-payer healthcare systems, and use price controls and rationing to keep drug prices low.  Price controls have greatly diminished biopharmaceutical research in these countries and as a result, free-ride on our R&D costs.  CAGW believes it is time for these countries to contribute to the research our citizens and taxpayers pay for through better trade deals.  This situation was discussed in a February 2020 President’s Council of Economic Advisers study, “Funding the Global Benefits to Biopharmaceutical Innovation.”

CAGW has consistently been against forcing companies to move all their operations to the U.S.  In many cases it is unpractical, not economically feasible, and risky in a global trading environment.  The RSC finds a better way and that is to provide financial incentives and removing regulatory barriers that would encourage manufacturers to relocate or expand production in the U.S.

The RSC calls for relaxing of regulations within the healthcare arena, like expanding telemedicine services and licensing reciprocity among states.  Telehealth has been very beneficial in getting healthcare delivered to thousands of patients during the pandemic that allowed them to talk with their physician without leaving their home.  There is no reason why this could not be utilized under normal conditions, saving traveling time and expenses.

Removing the ban on physician-owned hospitals will help spur specialty and focused medicine that provides better, efficient care.  Eliminating certificate-of-need provisions will allow hospitals or other healthcare facilities to add capacity, like more beds or specialized equipment, that would create more competition, choice, and lower costs.  RSC also recommends that the Food and Drug Administration fast-track approvals of devices or drugs that address COVID-19 and have already been approved in our allied countries.  This would be extremely beneficial to patients in the U.S.

It is unfortunate that it took a pandemic to recognize there are better, less expensive and more productive ways to deliver healthcare.  Adopting provisions found in the RSC healthcare letter will lead to better health every day, not just when we desperately need it.