The first step in solving the health care puzzle in the United States is to recognize that there is no single idea or a one-size-fits-all legislation that makes the problem go away. It is too broad and too complex. However, by creatively examining each piece of the puzzle, we can design an interlocking package of health care solutions. This is what I have attempted to do on the state level along with other well-intentioned legislators, to offer an encompassing umbrella that covers a broad segment of health care issues.
My legislative initiatives include:
Utilizing Telehealth for Medical Care. Authorizes health care practitioners to provide health care services through telemedicine. When appropriate, this would allow a person to receive medical care and consultation from the comforts of their home, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It would broaden access to everyone and reduce costs.
Expanding the Use of Patient-Centered Medical Homes. This proposal codifies and builds upon some of the private sector success of the patient-centered medical home program. Patient-centered medical homes are a model of health care that are comprehensive, team-based, coordinated, accessible, focused on quality, safety and patient satisfaction and tailored to the specific needs of each patient.
Better End of Life Planning with Advanced Directives. This proposal would provide for advance care planning to be a Medicaid covered service. “By changing when people start to express their health care preferences and how individuals and health care professional treat conversation about care at the end of life, people are more likely to get the car they actually want if they cannot speak for themselves,” according to David Kendall and Elizabeth Quill in a recent analysis of the issue.
Utilizing Bundled Payments to Reduce Costs. This proposal is a medical pocketbook issue. Bundled payments provide patients with a single bill for services, rather than a plethora of invoices that can overwhelm. A single payment system reduces waste, duplication and billing for extra services.
Helping Consumers Become Value Shoppers for Health Care. The “Health Care Consumer Cost Transparency Act,” establishes a health care Price Index (HPI) to serve as a useful, objective, reliable and comprehensive health information index that is designed to make health care data available.” By providing information about the range of costs and the suggestion of competition, a consumer would have choices about not only where to receive health care but how much he should pay.
Every legislator, who has run for office in recent years, has attempted to address the issue of health care in some form. Considering that health care reflects over 17% of our national gross domestic product and roughly 7% here in New Jersey, you can see why. I have been very conscious of examining many of the major issues that confront us on this broad and complicated topic and offer solutions that are both pragmatic and have a chance of passing in the legislature.
In our nation’s capital these days, there remains significant disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on health care reform in our country. I strongly (some may say naively) believe there is an opportunity to find common ground around the concept of making health care more efficient. One significant area where efficiencies can be achieved is by removing barriers to patient care.
Removing barriers to patient care will allow for a better patient experience, allowing them to get healthier faster by requiring quality and less expensive care options. The great part about this approach is that these ideas are being implemented across our nation in states led by both Democrats and Republicans. Our challenge is to be able to ramp up these innovative ideas up so that our country can take full advantage of them without the anchor of partisanship dragging them down. I have worked on several proposals that together comprise this health care innovation package. The goal is to make efficiency in health care a practical reality, not just a mere campaign slogan.
Sharing these bills with you are not meant to be seen as an exhaustive laundry list of solutions. Rather, my goal is twofold. First, I wanted to demonstrate that the issues of health care are not solvable with a single pass of a magic wand or the stroke of a signature on a single bill. Health care is one of the most complex policy issues facing our country, and there are multiple components of this issue which requires varied solutions. There are public officials who recognize this and are involved in one or more of the components of these bills.
Secondly, I don’t believe that you are an effective public servant by winning the sound bite war or making grandiose gestures. You keep your pledge by demonstrative evidence: in this instance, creating, introducing and nurturing legislation that makes a positive difference and addresses everyone’s most important concerns.
For most, health care ranks at the top of our concerns. The broad approach I have taken, with bipartisan support, can potentially be a winning strategy to which we should commit ourselves. I already have, and I hope you will too.
That’s my take, what’s yours?