Do Bipartisan Healthcare Cost Solutions Exist?
Stephanie Kennan, senior vice president of federal public affairs at McGuire Woods Consulting and former policy advisor to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, gives her take on what to expect during the first year of the Biden presidency.
As a part of her work, Kennan drafted the first bipartisan Medicare drug benefit proposal and has played a part in every piece of Medicare and Medicaid legislation passed in the last 25 years, either as a congressional staffer or while representing clients before Congress and the administration. She also served as director of federal relations for Maryland’s Department of Health, and as assistant director of government affairs for the American College of Emergency Physicians.
In the last Congress, Senators Grassley and Wyden were able to get a bipartisan proposal through Finance Committee. Yet, a majority of the committee members said they felt the bill needed more work before it came before the full Senate for consideration. Senator Grassley continued to work on it and yet no Republicans would support his revised version of the bill and Sen. Wyden did not support the revised bill.
In the House, several bills that were similar to sections of the Finance Committee bill did pass but were not considered by the Senate. So, it would seem logical that the Senate Finance Committee legislation before revisions, could again be a starting place. Sen. Wyden, the incoming Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has said he wants to tackle the issue of drug pricing. Mostly likely he will build off the original bipartisan bill and cap drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and require drug manufacturers to provide Medicare inflation rebates, paying back the government for price increases. In addition, the issue of allowing the government to negotiate drug prices is still very much active.
To be honest, I am not sure there are potential “bipartisan” policy solutions on healthcare costs that will get passed. However, I really hope I am incorrect.
However, with a new Administration and their vision of strengthening the ACA and expanding coverage, in a perfect world, the reinsurance programs would not be needed in their current form. If the Administration can shore up the ACA through the regulatory process and can provide expanded coverage options, the Section 1332 waivers may not be necessary. However, they are needed until the Administration is able to reinforce the ACA.