How President Trump Is Putting Patients in Control
This op-ed originally appeared in New York Post on July 1, 2019.
At some point, almost all Americans have been stuck with massive, unexpected medical bills or forced to make health decisions without real information or anyone to guide them. We have worked at the highest levels of US health care for years, yet it has happened to both of us.
It's one reason why President Trump signed an executive order last week to help you easily find the typical price — and what you would actually owe — for major health services before you have to purchase them.
This step is part of a number of efforts underway, across the administration, to fix the problems in American health care, while preserving what works and what Americans like about the system. Most Americans, especially the 240 million on Medicare or employer insurance, like what they have but are concerned about the flaws in the system. Too many fear that they are one bit of bad luck away from crippling medical bills.
The president understands this, which is why he vowed to build on what works and continue fighting to deliver the affordability you need, the options and control you want and the quality you deserve.
What does following through look like? First, the president has been clear: Americans need affordable health care. Patients deserve a backstop against high medical costs, and the government takeover of individual insurance over the past decade has failed to deliver that peace of mind.
The Trump administration has opened new insurance options for American small employers and workers both inside and outside of the individual insurance market, and we continue to protect Americans with preexisting conditions.
Last week, we finalized a new way for Americans to use tax-free contributions from their employer to purchase insurance of their choosing. The president's executive order will also open up new access to health-savings accounts, which can protect Americans from high medical bills.
We also need to address unaffordable prices in health care. There is already evidence that significant savings can be generated just by giving patients the tools to know prices and shop among providers, which is what the president's executive order will deliver. Americans should also be allowed to receive more services from lower-priced providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician's assistants.
The cost of prescription drugs also must keep coming down. The Trump administration has set records for approvals of low-cost generic drugs, saving patients $26 billion in just the first year and a half of the president's term. We have also proposed that backdoor rebates in Medicare Part D, which amounted to $29 billion last year, be delivered directly as discounts to patients at the pharmacy counter — as soon as Jan. 1, 2020.
Second, American patients deserve to be in control, not left at the mercy of a shadowy system. That is the goal of the president's new executive order: to bring you the pricing information you need to find the right options for you. The president has already ensured you have a right to find out the best possible price for medications from your pharmacist and required drug companies to put their prices in TV ads.
We are also working to give patients control over their own health information, allowing them seamless access to their health data through private-sector apps.
Third, we are going to deliver the quality patients deserve. High-quality care means not just cutting-edge treatments but also care that keeps you healthy, rather than only helping when you're sick.
We launched a major initiative that could connect 10 million or more Medicare beneficiaries to a primary-care provider who will be accountable to them — and paid more when patients stay healthy. The president's executive order aims to simplify health care quality measures collected by the federal government, so your doctor can focus on keeping you healthy, rather than filling out paperwork.
Putting you in control and providing you with real certainty is a stark contrast to recent proposals for a government takeover of our entire health care system. That leap would leave behind what so many Americans know and like about our system.
President Trump has promised a better vision: a health care system that treats you like a person, not a number. He wants to hold providers and Big Pharma accountable to transparency and reasonable prices. We are working every day to protect American patients and deliver on the president's vision.