Opinion

A Healthcare Plan for All Americans

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Posted: Sep 29, 2020 1:00 PM
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A Healthcare Plan for All Americans

Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file

If there’s one thing Americans need to know about the healthcare plan President Trump unveiled last week, it’s this: The president is delivering more choice, lower costs, and better care for every American, whatever their healthcare needs or however their healthcare is paid for.

The previous administration’s attempt to fix our healthcare system, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), focused primarily on a tiny slice of American healthcare: the individual insurance market. President Trump’s plan goes much further, in addition to taking numerous actions already to lower costs and open up new options in the individual insurance market. His healthcare plan is for everyone—and it’s already delivered real results.

Because of the president’s actions, Americans now enjoy more choice in healthcare than ever before. The number of Medicare Advantage plans available has risen more than 75 percent since the president took office, with the average county now offering 47 different plan choices—many of them including new benefits to help seniors with special healthcare needs, such as home-delivered meals. More than 94 percent of Medicare Advantage plans now offer additional telehealth options, and we’re working to make permanent many of the telehealth expansions we’ve delivered in Medicare during the pandemic. We’ve created new ways for workers to have a broader set of insurance options through Health Reimbursement Arrangements, and the president pledged last week to push for more reforms to open up even more options.

These choices often come with lower costs, too. Tens of millions of Americans who need prescription drugs have benefited from the fact that drug price inflation has been flat since we launched the president’s drug-pricing blueprint in 2018, from the historic levels of generic drug competition we’ve unleashed, and from the new tools we’ve provided the Medicare Advantage plans to negotiate lower prices. American seniors have now saved an estimated $3.4 billion because of lower premiums for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans under President Trump, with Medicare Advantage rates estimated at their lowest level in 14 years. Starting in January, any American who needs a hospital service will be able to learn what it’ll cost them before they receive the service, allowing them to shop around for lower-cost alternatives for many services. 

We’re not finished on delivering lower prescription drug costs, either. FDA has finalized a path for states to apply to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, and the president has solicited proposals on how to allow individual Americans to buy imported, FDA-approved drugs from other countries and have access to dramatically lower-cost, FDA-approved insulin through reimportation.

We’ve also delivered lower costs and more choice in the individual insurance market, which has seen premiums stabilize and finally drop under President Trump for the first time since the ACA became law. We’ve accomplished this while protecting patients with preexisting conditions—including through the president’s new executive order underscoring this absolute commitment.

Finally, the president has delivered better care for millions of Americans. A significant share of Americans with kidney disease will soon begin benefiting from new payment models that help them receive transplants or use more convenient home-based dialysis options. An estimated one-fourth of seniors in Medicare will benefit from new primary care models that will pay their doctors for keeping them healthy, rather than ordering more procedures. Every American who needs to access their medical record will have an easier time and find greater use from it because of the president’s historic rule requiring that health records finally be interoperable. 

Americans’ actual experience of healthcare has seen more tangible improvement—in better care, more choice, and lower costs—because of the actions taken by President Trump than we have seen under any administration, ever. 

His actions represent not just a plan for better care, more choice, and lower costs, but a path to a system that puts you, the patient, in control and treats you like a person, not a number. That’s the president’s vision for putting American patients first—and it means affordable, patient-centered healthcare for every single American.

Alex M. Azar II is U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.