Health policy experts weigh in on ACA replacement efforts

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As President Donald Trump took steps to roll back the Affordable Care Act through executive order, and Congressional leadership met in Philadelphia over talks at replacement options, many still wonder what is coming and when.

In a partnership forum Tuesday hosted by The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, health policy experts from both sides of the political spectrum discussed what’s working and what isn’t in regard to the healthcare law.

There are some issues with the ACA that definitely need to be addressed, says Liz Fowler, vice president of global health policy for Johnson & Johnson and one of the architects of the ACA. “There is concern about what coverage looks like, concerns about the number of plans available and what people are getting for what they’re buying,” she notes.

She stressed that Republican leaders who have been pushing for a quick repeal but are remaining silent on any details of replacement need to think about the consequences a complete overhaul.

“Let’s not tear down everything and start from scratch,” she says, adding, “While there are issues with the ACA, don’t ignore the positives it brings.”

Stephanie Carlton, a consultant with McKinsey & Company and a health policy adviser for Jeb Bush, said conservatives are still concerned about the rate of inflation in healthcare costs under the law, equating it to that of a mortgage for many Americans.

She says there are three problem areas that will help move healthcare along: increasing healthcare productivity, improving market function and bettering population health.

It’s been helpful in the repeal and replace debate that the president has been outspoken on universal healthcare coverage, notes Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. He’s been consistent in his debates and interviews to embrace that goal, he adds.

But what’s curious right about now, is you have a Congressional GOP party which has fought the premise of more coverage equates to more government, but you have a president that wants to provide healthcare to everyone, he says.

“What’s interesting in the course of time is what happens when those immovable forces collide,” Roy says. “My hope is that the president can be a very important part in steering Republicans in the right direction.”

But the conversation isn’t and won’t be only in Washington, Carlton notes.

“Washington can’t solve it all,” she says. “The private sector in a well-functioning market with well-designed incentives can help drive costs down. We have to think on how to enable those kinds of solutions too,” she adds.

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