Column: Guiding Principles for a Bipartisan Bill

We continue to hear sporadic news from Washington, D.C. regarding the Affordable Care Act. “Repeal and Replace,” “Repeal and Restore,” “Repeal and Repair,” “Don’t End but Mend”–the slogans are many. Hopefully, our country’s leadership will garner bipartisan support to craft a fair and equitable bill to help all American residents.

As we continue our commitment to patients, hospitals suggest some guiding principles for that bipartisan bill. They include:

• We must maintain coverage for all individuals currently receiving benefits;

• The ACA should not be repealed without a simultaneous replacement guaranteeing adequate coverage. If that doesn’t occur, then the hospital and health system payment reductions for Medicare and Medicaid that were to be used to fund coverage expansions must be restored so that we have resources to help care for the increased number of uninsured;

• We support continued efforts to transform the delivery system toward fee-for-value using coordinated care and integrated delivery mechanisms – the preferred methods to improve care, achieve efficiencies and make care more affordable;

• We must enact regulatory relief to reduce the administrative burden on our caregivers so that more resources can be devoted to patient care versus paperwork;

• Medicaid restructuring – in the form of block grants and per capita caps – should not be used as a vehicle to make budget cuts in an already under-funded program. Any additional “flexibility” to the states must be accompanied by safeguards that ensure sufficient funding to ensure adequate coverage. In addition, expansion and non-expansion states must be treated equitably;

• Finally, we must work to prevent any further reductions in payments for hospital and health system services to ensure that our patients and communities continue to receive access to high-quality care.

We are all stakeholders in healthcare and we need collaboration as we modify our healthcare delivery system. If we work together, then we can achieve success.

W. Stephen Love is President & CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council and a member of the Convening Panel for the State of Reform Health Policy Conference. This column was originally published in D CEO Healthcare and is re-printed with Mr. Love’s permission.