Thoughts on Health Care Reform by Jason Altmire
When President Obama made reforming the health care system his signature issue in 2009, the top priority was said to decrease the cost of health care for families, businesses and the government. Over the course of the next year, Americans were engaged in a very public debate and tensions grew as details of the bill began to emerge. This led to a change in both the tone of the debate and the goals reform was intended to achieve.
As someone who served in Congress during that time, I am not surprised at the level of public interest in the evolving health care law as Americans try to figure out what the coming implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means.Unlike almost any other political issue, health care uniquely affects everybody. This means that people across the country have a very personal interest in the issue and take very seriously any attempt by politicians to change the health care system. Over the course of the year-long debate, it became increasingly clear that the changes that were necessary to actually reduce overall health care costs, to "bend the cost curve," would touch on some of America's most powerful - and popular - interest groups. So Congress in the end decided to forgo the original goal of cost containment in favor of a new top priority – universal coverage. As the bill came together throughout the fall of 2009, many policy ideas came and went. Most notable among the policies that didn't make the cut was the so-called "public option" which would have been a government-subsidized insurance option available to consumers in the Marketplace (insurance exchange). Upon learning how this option would skew the insurance market, the idea fell into disfavor and was shelved. The final version of the bill that became law on March 23, 2010, establishes a variety of taxes, fees and Medicare cuts to offset the cost of providing government subsidies to the uninsured to help them afford coverage. Universal access is a long overdue goal, but with enactment of the ACA it was unfortunately achieved without many of the necessary reforms that would lower costs and increase the quality of health care for every American. This is why Florida Blue is working hard to assist Florida's families and employers, as well as those currently uninsured, in navigating the coming changes to the health insurance market. We are also taking the lead in working with health care providers to help increase the quality of care while controlling the costs. Over the next few weeks, we will discuss some of the ways that Florida Blue is preparing for the full scale implementation of the ACA coming January 1. We welcome your comments on these topics and your suggestions for future blog discussions related to the ACA. Still Have Questions?
- Call: 1-800-633-6806 or your local insurance agent.
- Click: Visit our health care reform section on our site
- Visit: A Florida Blue Center near you, and join us for the Health Care Reform Seminars happening in March and April.
Jason Altmire is the Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Government and Community Affairs at Florida Blue. He is a former Congressman from Pennsylvania and served from 2007 to 2013. While in the U.S. Congress, Jason was a nationally recognized leader in health care policy. A graduate of Florida State University and George Washington University, where he received his MHA, Jason now lives in Jacksonville with his wife and two children.