Book Offers Bipartisan Solutions To Get Past America's Health Care 'Breaking Point'
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the latest Republican challenge to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. This has been another chapter in America’s ongoing red-versus-blue battle in trying to shape the way we deliver and pay for health care.
Since the late 1960s, the cost of health care in the U.S. has increased at a higher rate than the rest of the world. It’s now up to over $10,000 per person, twice as much of what people in other countries pay. Yet, despite the cost of health care, Americans don’t have better health outcomes.
Republicans and Democrats have long debated what a better approach to health care is, yet author Dan Sem believes that the best of both party’s approaches should be combined into bipartisan action. Sem is the co-author and editor of Purple Solutions: A Bipartisan Roadmap to Better Healthcare in America, which explores what is hurting our health care system and offers pragmatic solutions. He's also the director of the Rx Think Tank and serves as the Dean of the Batterman School of Business at Concordia University.
“My premise really is that each side has some value and if we could combine something, we would actually have better health care," says Sem. "But what we have right now is broken. I think we’re beyond a tipping point — it’s a breaking point."
"What we have right now is broken. I think we're beyond a tipping point — it's a breaking point."
From the Republican side, he says he likes their proposals for further price transparency and keeping free markets ideas in health care. “Forced price transparency and competition, some of what the Trump administration had proposed, is good and could and should be embraced by Democrats,” Sem notes.
From the Democrats, he agrees with the idea of creating a universal baseline of heath care coverage in the U.S. Purple Solutions goes into combining these ideas and modeling them into a system similar to Germany's, where the government provides a baseline care for citizens, but with the option to buy more from private companies or forgo the government plan completely and just use a private plan.
“I do like the idea of universal care, but it could be provided by private entities," Sem notes. "So it could be government sponsored but it could be competing private entities to provide that."
A major problem in the current health care system neither side is addressing is how much actual care costs. Right now, negotiations for how much a procedure will cost is between the care provider and the insurance company. The patient has very little power in determining costs since the insurance company reimburses the hospital or clinics for the costs.
Sem says Democrats and Republicans should not simply focus on who is getting health care, but work to manage the enormous cost of actually providing that coverage.
“Controlling costs in my opinion is a compassionate thing to do because resources are limited. $3.5 trillion is what we spend now, there’s a limit, how much more can we spend?” he asks.
Sem acknowledges that in the current political climate, getting the two parties to agree is not as easy as it sounds. But he hopes his book can provide insight on how their can be bipartisan action on health care.
“I simply want each side to recognize that the other side might have had something of value. They don’t even need to view it as they are shaking hands and compromising, just don’t squash the good the other side might have had,” says Sem.