We can’t re­treat from the progress achieved in pur­suit of uni­ver­sal ac­cess to af­ford­able care

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By An­thony Ter­signi In­ter­ested in sub­mit­ting a Guest Ex­pert op-ed? modernhealth­care.com/op-ed. View guide­lines at Send drafts to As­sis­tant Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor David May dmay@modernhealth­care.com. at

Many Amer­i­cans are won­der­ing about the fu­ture of health­care in our coun­try fol­low­ing the re­cent elec­tions at the fed­eral, state and lo­cal lev­els. It’s too soon to know how events will un­fold, but one thing is clear.

We need to con­tinue the im­por­tant work to­ward guar­an­tee­ing 100% ac­cess and af­ford­abil­ity in health­care, and we must do more to im­prove health for all Amer­i­cans. While there are dif­fer­ent ideas about how to ac­com­plish th­ese goals, there also are broad ar­eas of agree­ment and op­por­tu­nity.

Both ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties agree that mov­ing from a health­care sys­tem that prizes vol­ume to one that re­wards value will make the sys­tem more ef­fi­cient, ef­fec­tive and truly per­son-cen­tered. In or­der to achieve this, we must fo­cus on pro­vid­ing ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able care, ac­com­plish­ing men­tal and be­hav­ioral health re­form, and com­bat­ing as­tro­nom­i­cal pre­scrip­tion drug price in­creases.

At As­cen­sion, the largest not-for­profit health sys­tem in the na­tion, we are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing com­pas­sion­ate, per­son­al­ized care to our communities and our pa­tients, giv­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to per­sons liv­ing in poverty and those most vul­ner­a­ble.

While it is clear that ma­jor changes are go­ing to be made to the Af­ford­able Care Act, Congress will have an op­por­tu­nity to re­set the de­bate to one that is more bi­par­ti­san in na­ture. But we must not take our eye off the ul­ti­mate goal: to en­sure that every Amer­i­can has ac­cess to qual­ity, af­ford­able health­care. As Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has noted, “We must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks sim­ply be­cause they can­not af­ford in­sur­ance.”

Close to 21 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have re­ceived in­sur­ance ei­ther through ex­panded Med­i­caid cov­er­age or through the ex­changes built for the in­di­vid­ual and small-group mar­kets. So it is also cru­cially im­por­tant that changes to the ACA in­clude a rea­son­able tran­si­tion so that th­ese in­di­vid­u­als do not face any in­ter­rup­tion in their cov­er­age.

An­other im­por­tant pri­or­ity is con­tin­u­ing to ad­vance the work to im­prove our coun­try’s men­tal and be­hav­ioral health pro­grams. Those with men­tal and be­hav­ioral health is­sues are strug­gling the most in our communities, and we need to provide real as­sis­tance to th­ese most vul­ner­a­ble in­di­vid­u­als.

More than 10 mil­lion Amer­i­cans suf­fer from se­vere schizophre­nia, bipo­lar dis­or­der or ma­jor de­pres­sion, and yet mil­lions go with­out treat­ment and fam­i­lies strug­gle to find care for loved ones. Those with a se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness also are vul­ner­a­ble to chronic med­i­cal con­di­tions, which can re­duce their life ex­pectancy. As­cen­sion sup­ports the men­tal health pro­vi­sions in the sweep­ing 21st Cen­tury Cures Act to strengthen fed­eral co­or­di­na­tion of men­tal health re­sources, ad­vance in­te­grated ser­vice de­liv­ery, and in­crease ac­cess to men­tal health ser­vices. This is an­other im­por­tant step for­ward in im­prov­ing men­tal health treat­ment na­tion­wide, and we must not rest here. More must be done to help this vul­ner­a­ble group of cit­i­zens, especially those veter­ans who have served our coun­try bravely.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant bar­rier to health­care re­form for providers is the con­tin­u­ing rise in drug prices, af­fect­ing pa­tient care and un­der­min­ing our abil­ity to provide pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions at an af­ford­able price. In this en­vi­ron­ment of sky­rock­et­ing drug costs, we call for mar­ket-based so­lu­tions such as those pro­posed by the Cam­paign for Sus­tain­able Rx Pric­ing, that fo­cus on price trans­parency, in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion, and pro­mot­ing in­no­va­tion and value.

We agree with the pres­i­dent-elect’s health­care re­form pol­icy pa­per, which noted, “It is the moral re­spon­si­bil­ity of a na­tion’s gov­ern­ment to do what is best for the peo­ple and what is in the in­ter­est of se­cur­ing the fu­ture of the na­tion.” That pol­icy is con­sis­tent with our sys­tem’s mis­sion to sus­tain and im­prove the health of all in­di­vid­u­als and communities.

Be­cause health­care con­tin­ues to be a top pri­or­ity for all cit­i­zens and our gov­ern­ment lead­ers at all lev­els, we urge the new ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress to work to­ward the avail­abil­ity of con­tin­u­ous cov­er­age for all Amer­i­cans, men­tal health par­ity, and af­ford­able pre­scrip­tion drug prices for all, especially per­sons in poverty and those most vul­ner­a­ble.

An­thony Ter­signi is pres­i­dent and CEO of St. Louis­based As­cen­sion, the na­tion’s largest not-for­profit health sys­tem.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.