It is not an exaggeration to say the future of American health care—what it will cost, who decides treatment, how much and from whom—is on the line in this election.
One side acknowledges that quality, affordable health care begins and ends with empowering patients with options and information to make the health care decisions that are right for themselves and their families. The other side seems threatened by the notion, instead doubling down on government control culminating in what is truly a misnomer, Medicare for All. Even with its $4 trillion price tag, expanding already stressed public programs exponentially would still leave too many with too little care. And except for the elites, government would manage the care—not patients. We can do better.
Arizona leads on empowering patients. We were first to guarantee health care freedom in our Constitution, direct primary care and health care sharing options are serving thousands, and patients are provided cash-pay prices beforehand if requested. Think how many hundreds of thousands in surprise bills could have been avoided over the years, however, if all patients knew what health care cost beforehand—regardless of who paid the bill! President Trump and Sen. McSally understand that meaningful pricing information is conspicuously missing from the industry, effectively thwarting competition and transparency, and they are addressing the issue at its source.
Under President Trump, we saw year-end drug prices drop in December 2018, which had not happened in over 50 years, and, as part of the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act supported by Sen. McSally, the individual mandate, which forced people to buy expensive insurance and taxed those who couldn’t afford it, was repealed.
But that is just the beginning. The administration committed to preserving preexisting condition protections, and the state of Arizona took action to do the same this year by passing SB 1397 into law. President Trump also rescinded Obama-era regulations restricting affordable health plan options like Association Health Plans (AHPs) in the states—especially for small businesses. As a result, the Legislature acted quickly, enabling AHPs in Arizona. The East Valley Chamber of Commerce Alliance was one of the first to launch its Affinity health insurance discount plan in 2019 for their members “to help East Valley employers save money on health care premiums and provide a robust plan and quality care to their employees,” said Tempe Chamber President/CEO Anne Gill. Patty Villeneuve, Cave Creek-Carefree Chamber president/CEO, concurs. “This alternative health care program has been a truly viable solution for people.”
The Trump administration did the same with short-term limited duration plans so states could provide a viable option for young people transitioning off their parents’ health care; retirees who do not yet qualify for Medicare; and individuals between jobs needing a short-term solution, which Arizona also enabled last year.
If the Biden-Harris ticket wins in November, expect to see all this progress reversed. The health care landscape will look different for sure, but their promises will fall short of Americans’ hopes and expectations. Fewer doctors will be willing to work under government control, and life-saving innovations that only freedom can produce will decline. Remember the promise, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” and how untrue that proved to be.
President Trump is keeping his promise to stand with patients, challenge entrenched interests and protect health care freedom—and he’s earned my support.
Arizona Rep. Nancy Barto is chairwoman of the health and human services committee, Legislative District 15.