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Policy Issues in US Healthcare

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Published: Fri, 15 Sep 2017

Jessie E Salters 

POLICY/ADVOCACY PROJECT

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit, nonpartisan research institute. The Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of Georgians through public policies that enhance economic opportunity and freedom. The Foundation is state orientated, independent, and without particular interest towards any political group. Georgia’s Public Policy Foundation conducts scholarly research and analysis of state public policy issues and work to educate citizens, policy makers and the media. Several events throughout the state are hosted each year to discuss issues relating to public policy issues that affect Georgians.

The present policy issue of significance that this agency is actively seeking to address is health care spending. According to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, (georgiapolicy.org/2016/08/guide-issues-health-care) the government office of accountability non health care spending accounts for the consistent overall percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over time, however health spending increases at an overwhelming rate. Funds that are spent on Social Security, defense, domestic programs, etc., excluding interest expense left unattended causes unsustainable federal deficit spending. This type of spending overshadows other budget interests pertaining to education and transportation thus causing health care spending to strain Georgia’s families’ budgets.

Health care is very complex and has many challenges to try and address as a whole. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s plan to address the issue is by focusing their attention on what they consider to be policy issues that are misrepresentative of our health care system. The Foundation is addressing the federal tax policy, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and coverage for pre-existing conditions.  The Foundation proposed to tighten gaps within the federal tax policy by redefining refundable tax credits to allow unused credits to reimburse safety net providers. This is assumed to be the most impartial way to improve access to health care and provide individuals with alternative ways to purchase health care insurance.

The uncompensated care issues caused by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act would be alleviated by use of the tax credits. The tax credits would assist in the transparency between employers’ provided insurance vs. commercially purchased insurance. To prevent take-over by employer insurance the tax credits would only be offered to employees that don’t have employer insurance. Pre-existing conditions would be address by replacing costly regulations with high-risk pools. This is beneficial to individuals who are considered to be medically uninsurable based on certain health conditions or reasons.  The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s expected response as a result of their advocacy efforts would be a sound health policy with the characteristics being Patient Centered, Security for the Sickest, Equitable Tax Treatment, Personal Responsibility, Access for All, and Transparency.

In reverence to the above current policy issue the article by Alan R. Weil, Coverage Expansion, Accountable Care, and More. Health Affairs 36, no.1 (2017):7 doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1607 expressed concerns that are associated with the above policy issues. This article identified health care as a primary talking point during the election year. The Affordable Care Act was considered to make Health Care accessible and affordable for all. However, health care coverage expansion, accountable care, and disparities are issues associated with the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Health care premiums continued to sky rocket in 2016. The health care market is difficult to measure since insurance premiums continued to change from year to year and underwriting has a significant effect on prices. Premium increases are based on the prices of product offered and not products people actually buy.

Health Affairs, (2016.1607) reported disparities in California that showed individuals switched their insurance plans to the plan of lowest cost. This in turn caused a rise in the amount of money paid by enrollees, more than individuals that were only searching for insurance. Reports indicated a third of individuals did not received insurance discounts due to the lack of knowledge or because of obtaining the insurance out of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.

Medicare Shared Savings Programs used data that was from two years of services provided by accountable care organizations (ACOs) that indicated racial and ethnic disparities.  New payment procedures are needed to ensure a positive quality of healthcare is provided and accessible. Cost and health care quality in the Alternative Quality Contract (AQC) was compared among enrollees in regions of Massachusetts with lower and higher socioeconomic status which found disparities in process measures but not in outcome measures. Medicare subsidies are not equal to the quality and improvements as in the Alternative Quality Contract.

The information contain in this article illustrate and support the need for advocacy in implementing consumer driven health care reforms. This article describes how difficult it is to achieve health care at the local, state and federal levels due to systematic and controversial differences that are prevalent and are affecting our health care system. The need for continued advocacy at all levels is vital to succeeding at revitalizing our health care system.

REFERENCES

Alan R. Weil, Coverage Expansion, Accountable Care, And More: Health Affairs 36, no. 1

(2017): 7 doi: 10. 1377/hlthaff.2016.1607

Guide to the Issues: Health Care: Retrieved From;

http://www.georgiapolicy.org/2016/08/guide-issues-health-care/


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