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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump released his America First Healthcare Plan last month, yet judging by the lack of media coverage, you’d be forgiven if you missed it. At last month’s debate in Cleveland, Joe Biden said, Trump “has no plan for health care.” Aside from expanding a failed public option, Mr. Biden could have been talking to the mirror when he made this statement.

In reality, Mr. Trump’s plan amounts to a personalized health care revolution that would increase choices, reduce costs and improve care. He would enact this health care plan by consolidating and expanding on his various accomplishments already made in his first term.


To start, Mr. Trump’s plan provides non-negotiable protections for those with preexisting conditions. Mr. Trump has promised to veto any bill that comes to his desk that does not protect these vulnerable Americans.

Mr. Trump would increase health care choices by building upon his success in expanding from the one-size-fits-all options under Obamacare. These additional choices include short-term health plans, which don’t include all the mandates of Obamacare but are roughly 80 percent less expensive. He also empowers association health plans (AHPs), which allow small businesses to band together to increase their negotiating power and get less expensive policies for their members. Unfortunately — like much of the Trump health care agenda — AHPs have been held up by court challenges.

Nevertheless, Trump has succeeded in increasing health care choices. When he took office, more than 50 percent of counties nationwide offered plans from only a single insurance company on the individual market; today, more than 90 percent of the counties will have multiple options from which to choose. This will lead to competition which is sorely absent in Obamacare.

Mr. Trump’s health care plan would lower costs by introducing real health care price transparency so that patients can easily shop for less expensive care. This reform would also eliminate surprise billing because patients would know before receiving care what they have to pay. This cost certainty would be a welcome change from the status quo where patients don’t know what they’ll pay until they get their bills in the mail. This price transparency rule, too, is the subject of a court challenge.

By working to reform the complex prescription drug market, including addressing the Kabuki theater system of middlemen rebates and kickbacks, Mr. Trump has succeeded in lowering drug costs for the first time in 52 years. Drug prices will continue to fall as these rebate dollars are directed away from the middlemen and instead given back to patients.

Mr. Trump’s health care plan would improve care by expanding telemedicine and granting patients access to their personal medical records so that they can get care from the comfort and safety of their own homes. These reforms are just two of many modernization steps Mr. Trump is taking to finally drag American health care into the 21st century.

Mr. Trump has also improved care by getting rid of Obamacare’s individual mandate, which forced Americans to get health care insurance even if it was shoddy. When patients can choose whether or not to purchase coverage, insurers must try to attract them based on quality and cost.

In contrast to this bottom-up vision of personalized health care reform, Joe Biden’s alternative amounts to essentially just expanding the failed Medicaid program to all who want it. Yet Medicaid suffers from long wait times, cost overruns, and substandard care. Expanding this broken system to all who want it is not the solution to the American health care problem. Obamacare is the direct cause of health care’s out of control inflationary spiral.

In fact, a public option would turn into a Medicare for All single-payer system because it would attract the relatively young and healthy patients who are needed to offset the costs of sicker patients in the private market. As a result, premiums would rise and the private market death spiral would begin. Indeed the public option is just a steamship en route to the single-payer port.

The Trump and Biden health care visions could not be more different. Mr. Trump’s vision is a personalized system that would increase choices, lower costs and improve care. Mr. Biden’s plan doubles-down on Obamacare, expanding a failed government-run model of care. Voters should examine these alternatives, which will become their health care futures, before they cast their vote on Election Day. 

• Dr. Robert Campbell is president of Central PA Anesthesia in Lebanon and a member of the Job Creators Network.


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