Opportunities for Bipartisanship Still Exist on Key Health Care Issues

| Brittany McCullough
A picture of a doctor writing a prescription

By now I’m sure you have read just about every article there is to read about health care issues that were on the ballot this November. As of late, the confirmation of a new presumably conservative judge on the highest court of the land that will hear cases on women’s reproductive health rights and decide the fate of the ACA has been leading the press. But, aside from the Supreme Court having a marked bend towards conservatives, there are still a number of health care issues that Republicans and Democrats alike should be able to find common ground on once the dust settles on the election.  

Up first is approving another stimulus package to provide relief to all impacted by COVID-19 (which is all of us by the way). While I won’t offer my personal views on if Americans need another round of $1,200 checks or if we should be providing loans to businesses, whether small or large, it is hard to ignore the fact that millions of people have lost their jobs since March. And, given the vast majority of working Americans get their health insurance through their jobs, one can easily see the dilemma here. So, while expanding unemployment should help, another option that needs to be considered is giving Medicaid and safety-net providers the funding they desperately need to account for the increased enrollment.  

Next is an issue that is personal for me and so many others, which is surprise billing. I’ve been super disappointed that Congress has not come together to pass some type of meaningful legislation to address the dated practice. And, while there is certainly a debate to be had about the process to consider surprise bills, everyone agrees that patients should be kept out of the mix. There has been a lot of lobbying dollars thrown behind this issue since the midterms. And, while I hope surprise billing just might get included in a lame duck session, I’m still confident the next Congress will take it on regardless of the makeup of either chamber.  

Third, we have drug pricing. Now, I know what you’re thinking. The Trump Administration’s signature health care proposal has been on lowering drug prices particularly for seniors but in my personal opinion, they haven’t really moved the needle much. Part of that is politics in trying to determine how far the GOP themselves is willing to go as there has been notable disagreement within the party and of course a lack of agreement with Democrats -- but that’s to be expected.  

And, lastly, that leaves digital health. I don’t have to quote the number of studies showing the uptick in services since the pandemic started or reference the number of policies CMS has enacted on both an interim and permanent basis in support to convince you that telehealth should be a part of regular care (but I’ve linked a nice op-ed from CMS Administrator Verma here just in case). Reality is, whatever you want to refer to it as, telehealth has been invaluable when it comes to ensuring access to care these last several months. While a number of states have made progress and the Feds have too in terms of increasing flexibility in the use of telehealth, there are still some statutory barriers in place that it’s time to revisit.  

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of policies that Democrats and Republicans and insert other political affiliation here ought to come together on (hello ACA), I think there is enough agreement on both sides that something has to be done. Guess we’ll have to wait and see as always.  

Brittany McCullough photo

Brittany McCullough, Manager, Health Policy and Government Programs.

Brittany McCullough, URAC's Manager of Health Policy and Government Programs, tracks and analyzes legislation and regulations of importance to URAC stakeholders. She also helps manage URAC’s public policy external affairs portfolio and oversees compliance with government deemed programs. Most of her policy and research work has been related to the ACA, Medicaid managed care, Part D, telehealth and mental health parity. She holds a B.S. in Neuroscience and a Master of Health Administration.

Views, thoughts and opinions expressed in my articles belong solely to me, and not necessarily to my employer.

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