Health Care Reform Must Put Patient First

Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired of America's failing health care system.

As President Barack Obama insisted in his State of the Union, we cannot walk away from health reform. It is too soon to write an obituary on much-needed changes in how we treat patients and pay for that care. Lives are at stake.

But we should not confuse the president's message as permission for more political maneuvering to adopt a Senate plan that the public has soundly rejected in the polls and recently at the Massachusetts ballot box.

Doctors and hospitals should be able to interface their offices with patients' medical records on an electronic basis. Not only is paper inefficient, it can kill.

Instead we need a rational, bipartisan approach that is truly person-centered. After all, Americans want a remedy that will actually:

  • Make health care more affordable. Eliminating waste and inefficiencies must be hallmarks of an effort to reduce cost while emphasizing prevention can avoid the need for costly interventions.

  • Make health care more available by ensuring each American has access to quality, skilled professionals and health care facilities in communities where they live.

  • Make health care fulfill the promise of personalized medicine that assures care will be rational and not rationed, and that quality and not costs drive decisions.

Transforming health care is a complex operation that cannot be accomplished with a sledge hammer of a 2,000-page bill. A bipartisan approach could include:

  • Making insurance portable and cheaper by allowing Americans to shop for it across state lines and to price policies online. Make the tax code friendly so Americans can deduct their premiums just as businesses do.

  • Moving communities to an electronic health system and electronic patient records. Doctors and hospitals should be able to interface their offices with patients' medical records on an electronic basis. Not only is paper inefficient, it can kill.

  • Eliminating waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid.

  • Enacting civil justice reform so physicians and hospitals are only sued for just cause, not for an easy payout. All of us pay as much as 30 percent more for health care due to "defensive medicine" because doctors and hospitals require patients to undergo unnecessary tests to keep from getting sued.

We invite Congress and the president with a new set of eyes on health care to truly engage in bipartisan talks. Genuine transformation requires a sincere commitment to change, listening to the American people and always putting patients first.

Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI. Andrew von Eschenbach is former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and senior strategist at the Center for Health Transformation.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/Sharon Dominick

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.