By Michael Abramowitz
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said he has a better idea for health care reform, but he can’t get support from his party or the White House.
The Republican senator from North Carolina stopped at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University on his way home to Winston-Salem from Washington, D.C., to share his thoughts on health care reform and the Affordable Care Act with physicians and medical students.
Burr said he most often is asked what it is like to be part of the debates in Washington these days, and more important, what he felt going through the debate on the Affordable Care Act.
“I’ve been involved in health care legislation for 19 years,” Burr said. “It would have been easier for me to go to medical school than to learn about (federal) health care policy.”
Burr said he has the right to be critical of the administration’s reform legislation because he has worked on and introduced three comprehensive health care plans in the U.S. Senate, including on the topic of Medicaid reform.
“Everybody says if you’re going to be critical, introduce your plan,” Burr said. “Well, (with Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn) we’ve introduced our plan over and over again. But I’m not going to look in the rear-view mirror because the ACA is now law.”
Burr focused on the two premises of the ACA; first, that everyone should have access to health insurance coverage, which he said most Americans would agree with.
“America is the most compassionate country; there’s no country that has an open-door policy the way we do,” Burr said. “But about three weeks, ago we cut off people with pre-existing conditions and no affordable insurance because we hit the wall on the funding mechanism and didn’t have any more money. So we’ve already fallen short for one of the most targeted groups.”
The second part of Burr’s focus on the ACA was health insurance exchanges, scheduled for implementation through the ACA beginning in January. Under the new law, states can choose to self-manage the three-year, 100-percent federal funding on their own or opt out of participation. North Carolina chose not to participate in insurance exchanges, leaving the management to the federal government.
Burr said he does not support the ACA format for health exchanges.
“State exchanges are run by the state but governed by the federal government through the ACA, which said exactly how the state exchanges must operate and what the benefit packages must look like,” Burr said.
He said he and Coburn supported a form of state Medicaid exchanges as an important health care reform method if the state is left in charge of its exchange.
“I think a state-run exchange would have been a tremendous success in a state like North Carolina … because it brought together medical professionals in a community to manage care and make medical decisions for an individual patient,” Burr said.
He supports the idea of medical homes, which also gather medical providers and resources around patients rather than having the patient go from one provider or specialist to another. He said he sees a particular benefit of that format for Medicare patients.
“They are the ones who can have a better health outcome and a cheaper health-care experience with a medical home navigating the options and driving the decisions for them,” Burr said. “A hospital is not always the best portal to access, either for outcomes or for cost.
“The Affordable Care Act does not produce a more involved patient in its matrix,” Burr said. “It requires transparency by providers that pits the quality of one provider over another at lower costs that is needed to make decisions. We have to find a way to do that without creating a roadmap to liability.”
Burr said he is satisfied with his continued efforts to put out health care policies that he believes have a chance to work, but has not gotten support from his own party or from the White House, which he said had plenty of opportunity to examine them before crafting the ACA, but did not.
“They didn’t do health care reform; they did health care replacement,” he said. “They defined a federal guideline for how health care will be conducted, but it hasn’t reformed anything. A robust health care system that is financially sustainable must put the emphasis on competition and innovation. That’s what the Affordable Care Act lacks.”
Contact Michael Abramowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9571.
via The Daily Reflector.