Health Care 2020: What’s Missing from the Debate?

The Progressive Policy Institute’s Health Care 2020 panel relayed the overwhelming opinion that the American health care system is broken and in desperate need of reform. 

Americans need health care reform to achieve timely access to effective, affordable, and quality medical care. The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday, July 24th featuring the Honorable John Kitzhaber, MD, Tara O’Neill Hayes, Anand Parekh, MD, and Arielle Kane on the often forgotten elements of comprehensive health care reform.

The panelists discussed how to get to universal coverage, how to transition to an accountable delivery system, the need for a global budget, and, most importantly, how to reinvest savings to address social determinants of health. Governor Kitzhaber said that “at 18 percent of GDP, we know that health care has huge opportunity costs. When you look at the things that have long term impacts on health, it’s housing, safe communities, maternal care, and other social determinants of health.”

This conversation, with over 80 people in attendance, focused on crucial elements of holistic health reform rather than the more frequent discussions around “repeal-and-replace” or “Medicare-for-all.” Anand Parekh, MD, MPH, the chief medical advisor of the Bipartisan Policy Center noted that: “A lot of the oxygen in the debate surrounds increasing access to affordable health insurance and access to affordable prescription drugs. Those are critical — but it’s also important to focus on what happens beyond the four walls of a health center.” This focus on health beyond the hospital included a discussion of preventative care and improving health in a financially sustainable way.

Tara O’Neill Hayes, the deputy director of Health Care Policy at the American Action Forum, said “Medicare and Medicaid already account for 26.5 percent of the federal budget, with a percentage that’s grown each year. By 2027, these two programs alone will cost the federal government over $2 trillion.”

The overwhelming sentiment was that the American health care system is broken and in desperate need of reform in a manner that is both financially sustainable and prioritizes patient outcomes.