How to Lower Healthcare Costs: Advice to Congress from AAPS President Marilyn Singleton, M.D., J.D.

Tucson, Arizona, UNITED STATES

TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 07, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Health-related costs have soared from about 5 percent of the average household’s annual spending in 1984 to 8 percent now, writes Marilyn Singleton, M.D., J.D., in the winter issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. “Thus, the focus of healthcare reform must shift from merely providing insurance coverage to providing affordable options and increasing access to medical care.”

Dr. Singleton, a California anesthesiologist, is president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

She points out that more than $100 billion in Affordable Care Act (ACA) funds have been spent subsidizing “the individual market,” and premiums have only soared.

In a memorandum to incoming congresspersons, Dr. Singleton writes that “a good medical ‘system’ requires voluntariness, price transparency, multiple medical practice models, and a variety of insurance products in order to lower costs.”

Prices could be lowered substantially through increased competition, she states, and Congress needs to remove barriers. The list of barriers includes:

  • lack of price transparency,
  • certificate-of-need laws,
  • ACA restrictions on physician-owned hospitals,
  • lax interpretation of anti-trust laws that allows massive consolidation in the industry, and
  • safe harbors from the Medicare Anti-kickback Statute for group purchasing organizations (GPOs) and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs).

Congress also needs to encourage direct patient care practices; health-sharing ministries; expanded tax-exempt medical expense accounts without complex, restrictive Health Savings Account (HSA) rules; portable low-cost insurance options; and innovative charitable arrangements. Such measures would empower patients and improve access to care while reducing costs, Dr. Singleton explains.

The need to reduce costs, not simply transfer them to taxpayers, should be of concern to both Republicans and Democrats, Dr. Singleton argues.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

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