Keeping with the Destination HealthEU aim to keep readers up to date on recent changes in American health care policy trends, this post will be the blog’s first health policy update of the semester. It will outline the most recent news regarding health policy and government regulation.

The ACA

The recent events surrounding the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanagh has temporarily taken Congress’ focus off of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the future of American healthcare. A recent statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell re-established the Republican priority to repeal the ACA. According to McConnell, the Republican party plans on reforming social welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicaid along with the repeal of the ACA. However, this goal has to wait until after the midterm elections, which could prove difficult for the Republican party. If the Republican party loses the majority in the House of Representatives, completely repealing the ACA might not be so easy.

Protesters at a rally against repealing the ACA. The woman in the front is holding a sign that says "We [heart] Obama Care"
Protesters at a rally against repealing the ACA. Photo credit: LaDawna Howard

Public Opinion

As the country looks toward the midterm elections, healthcare continues to be a primary concern of many Americans. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, over seventy percent of respondents said that healthcare was “very important” in their election decisions, with 40 percent of Democrats and 15 percent of Republicans saying it was their most important issue. Again, the future of American healthcare will be largely dependent upon the results of the midterm elections and the health platforms of the candidates who prevail. A upcoming post will outline the health policy platforms of the two candidates in the Georgia Gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp.

Medicaid/Medicare

The debate over the appropriate scope of Medicare has been present for decades, but recently the Chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has inserted herself into the debate. Seema Verma, Chief CMS Administrator, warned in a speech to insurers last week that the notion of “Medicare for All” would greatly damage the U.S. private health insurance industry and, “would decimate physician networks, creating a permanent physician shortage.” This is quite a blow to lobbyists who are advocating for the expansion for Medicaid.

The Opioid Epidemic

In response to the opioid epidemic, recently many policy levers have been proposed to help states improve opioid addiction treatment. These policy levers include parity laws, treatment facility regulation and certification, workforce licensing, and Drug Court access and standards. Improving the treatment of opioid addictions will reduce the rates of addiction relapse and help people get the help they need and deserve.

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