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Dr. Price Is Confirmed—Now the Real Work Begins

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Senate Republicans put an end to Democratic shenanigans early Friday morning when Congressman Tom Price was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Although the process for Dr. Price was difficult and wrought with the typical hysteria the left reserves exclusively for the nominees of Republican administrations, the real work of sensible health care reform may now finally begin.

Democrats have been perpetuating the myth that the Republicans lack viable replacements once Obamacare is jettisoned from the landscape of American health care.  This could not be farther from the truth. Dr. Price and his colleagues are already ahead of schedule with a package of reforms.  Their plan, A Better Way, released in June of last year, addresses many of the failures Americans are currently experiencing under Obamacare.

The left is also quick to point out that any Republican health policy reforms would assuredly exclude access to care for those people who suffer from pre-existing conditions. Again, this is simply not true.  A Better Way proposes protections for people with pre-existing conditions by ensuring that every American, healthy or sick, will never be denied an insurance plan from a health carrier.

Price and colleagues’ plan protects patients by forbidding insurance companies from suddenly denying policy renewal for people simply because they’re sick.  People would also not experience severe rate hikes should they suddenly become ill while currently insured.

This provision is already in place in the employer market and would be extended to consumers who secure their insurance through the individual market. This would also apply to people switching their health coverage from employer provided insurance to the individual market as well. We’ve all heard stories of people who have a serious medical condition experiencing incredible premium hikes should they have to transition from their employer’s insurance to the individual market. These anxiety-provoking situations and accompanying financial stress that individuals and families face would be eliminated thanks to A Better Way.

How will Dr. Price’s plan resolve to insure all Americans? First, by recognizing that innovation is best left to the states.  A Better Way would establish grantsfor those states that develop effective health care reforms to make coverage truly affordable and accessible. Participation is based upon the states achieving targets for cost reductions in individual premiums and small group premiums as well as decreasing the number of uninsured people.

A Better Way provides another solution designed to help states increase the number of people with health insurance. High-risk pools would be created and funded by the federal government with the states assisting in maintaining these pools’ solvency through their respective state commissioner or other non-government, third-party groups like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Premiums would be capped and wait lists prohibited under this proposal.

These high risk pools coupled with the aforementioned state innovation grants, would both increase health insurance participation and lower the cost of health care for some of the most vulnerable populations.  The CBO has analyzed similar proposals in the past and found them to be effective in reducing premiums.

Notice that this is not a central-planned, top-down approach. Instead, it’s a collaborative strategy that motivates and empowers states, along with some federal assistance, with the flexibility to pursue their own solutions that are relative to their distinctive populations. It’s also a shift away from costly, one-size-fits-all mandates and moves towards market reforms with the goal of ensuring that all Americans get a fair shake from insurance companies.  

These are just samples of some of the solutions A Better Way proposes and it remains to be seen which application ultimately becomes law, but these bold, tested, market-based advances certainly serve as a guide towards authentic, commonsense health care reform.  And who better to lead the way on this journey than Secretary Tom Price?

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