With the presidential election on the horizon, numerous healthcare issues still left unresolved, and the nation’s politics more polarized than ever, the new year is shaping up to be a veritable warzone for medical-related, legislative concerns. For all of America’s progress in the years since President Trump’s inauguration, the United States’ healthcare system remains in dire need of reform. And Democrats, rabid with far-left radicalism, are climbing over each other to have their plans realized. So, grab your popcorn and buckle up—here are the biggest healthcare battles to watch for in 2020.
Medicare For All
The headliner in the coming year is clearly the issue of Medicare For All. A centerpiece of the current Democratic platform and a clear dividing line between the parties, Medicare For All will doubtlessly dominate the healthcare debate in 2020.
Central to the discussion of Medicare For All is this question: should the government usurp control over America’s entire healthcare industry? Democratic frontrunners like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders argue that it should. Whereas President Trump, a free-marketeer on the issue of healthcare, obviously disagrees, contending instead that the federal government has no right to essentially destroy the private insurance industry and rob Americans of their right to choose their healthcare.
Currently, Americans are completely divided on the issue, with 51 percent in favor of a Medicare For All plan and 47 percent opposing it. While the program’s favorability is likely to decline as Republicans highlight the myriad flaws, tax increases, and government overreach such a program would entail, the topic is still ripe for debate.
The issue is likely to be hotly contested with all interested parties bringing their full influence to bear. Ultimately, the success of the Medicare For All program lives or dies on the results of the presidential election. But even after the dust has settled and a president has been chosen, the debate over government-run healthcare will carry on.
Surprise Medical Billing
The second major healthcare battle, surprise medical billing, isn’t nearly as headline-grabbing as the first. But don’t let that fool you—the debate over a potential solution has been fierce and will only escalate in 2020.
Occurring after an unlucky soul receives emergency medical treatment from a facility outside of their coverage, surprise medical bills are precisely what they sound like: bills, not covered by one’s insurance, that are wholly unexpected expenses. Often, these bills can total thousands of dollars and can devastate an individual’s personal finances. Most reasonable government officials agree that action needs to be taken to fix this crisis, but what action that is, that is intensely debated.
In 2019, lawmakers attempted to jam through a hastily-put-together piece of legislation called the Lower Health Care Costs Act (LHCC). The bill would have imposed what was tantamount to onerous price controls on the healthcare industry, limiting the prices hospitals were allowed to charge for particular services. But a coalition of conservative groups, including Heritage Action, Americans for Tax Reform, and Club for Growth, realized the dangers the LHCC posed for the industry at large and urged Congress to delay consideration of the bill until the new year.
In December, the coalition succeeded in postponing the LHCC into 2020, but the question of a solution for surprise medical billing is far from answered. Despite the bill’s failure in 2019, the legislation’s advocates are likely to regroup, marshal their forces, and push forward once again.
The question is, however, whether conservatives will manage to introduce Independent Dispute Resolution into the legislation – for all surprise bills, not just those of small denominations. Doing so has worked in a number of states, including New York, and would replace harmful federal mandates with the free-market solution of arbitration to the problem of surprise medical bills. If so, the strained legislative battle may become a tenuous compromise after all—but only time will tell.
Finally, the last vestige of President Obama’s tattered legacy will once again rear its ugly head in 2020. Only this time, legislators are unlikely to take up its repeal in the halls of Congress. Rather, the lawyers in court will once again battle to determine the law’s constitutionality.
Previously thought to be a resolved issue, Obamacare was once again thrust into the spotlight in the waning days of 2019. On December 19, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the individual mandate portion of the law to be unconstitutional. The ruling distinguished itself from the prior Supreme Court decision on the subject because Congress eliminated Obamacare’s financial penalty in 2017—a critical aspect of the Supreme Court’s initial decision in finding the law constitutional.
Obamacare undoubtedly remains a contentious political topic, with only about 52 percent of the public holding a favorable view of the law. But unlike the previous issues, neither public opinion nor our elected representatives have the power to determine the outcome of the fight. Only America’s judges have the authority to fight in this battle. And thankfully, one in four judges with the Federal Circuit has been appointed by President Trump.
It may be the end of 2019, but don’t be fooled, the pitched battles over healthcare are just getting started. While our nation looks toward the new year with the hopeful perspective that a fresh start brings, heated conflict is nevertheless inevitable. Obamacare, surprise medical billing, and Medicare For All will determine the future of American healthcare, and they are certainly the healthcare major battles to watch in 2020.