Trump has broken free of ObamaCare's grip, but more reforms can and must be made

Saddled with an unpopular health-care program that was costing more and insuring fewer people than promised by its architects, the Trump administration in late 2017 made some bold health-care reforms that appear to be moving things in the right direction.

Rather than continuing its predecessor’s policies, the administration announced its new approach in October 2017. It would break free from ObamaCare’s regulatory grip and provide Americans with more options to meet their health-care needs.

It issued guidance that expands the ability of states to reform their individual insurance markets while ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions are protected. This will remove onerous burdens that force the people in those states into one-size-fits-all plans imposed by the federal government, while focusing government support on the most vulnerable.

OBAMACARE CONTINUES TO FAIL

It enacted reforms that give insurers greater flexibility to offer more options and benefits in Medicare Advantage. This will allow seniors to shop for plans with richer benefits that could save them money, while also costing taxpayers less.

It implemented a rule making it easier for employers, including sole proprietors, to join together and offer health coverage through Association Health Plans. The plans will allow employers to offer employees and their families more affordable benefits.

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It implemented another rule that expanded the ability of Americans to purchase short-term, limited-duration insurance. This rule will help millions of Americans who were priced out of dysfunctional ObamaCare exchanges to obtain affordable coverage.

It proposed a rule that, through health reimbursement arrangements, would give employers new flexibility in how they fund coverage. This will provide enrollees with greater ownership and control over the benefits they receive, which are portable as they change jobs.

The critics claimed these changes and others like them would lead to “higher costs and less coverage” and would “eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

The latest data shows those criticisms are unfounded.

The overriding concern for American families is rising health- care costs. Premiums for people on the ObamaCare exchanges have been rising rapidly since their creation. Yet in October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that average monthly premiums on Healthcare.gov will decrease for the first time in 2019 (by 1.5 percent), compared to the 36.9 percent and 25.4 percent increases the previous two years.

Of course, there is still more work to be done. The Trump administration can build on these accomplishments by implementing additional policies that will give Americans more ways to get quality, affordable care.

The administration recently released an excellent new report highlighting needed reforms for Congress and states.

It calls for states to eliminate certificate of need (CON) requirements that can prevent the building of new hospitals and block existing facilities from expanding services. Removing CON requirements will allow for innovative health-care solutions from new providers.In addition, states should broaden the scope of practice for physician assistants and dental hygienists. Letting these professionals provide more medical services would reduce costs and expand availability.

Expanding opportunities for telehealth (including flexibility across state lines) and enabling multistate medical licenses ould also provide a wider variety of medical services with greater convenience at lower cost.

If patients had easier access to their medical records, they would have more information upon which to decide what health insurance plans to purchase. Informed consumers will make better choices for themselves.

Lastly, the administration should work with medical certification boards to make it easier for foreign-trained doctors already in the United States to start practicing more quickly. This would alleviate the current physician shortage.

The Trump administration has enjoyed remarkable success in providing greater access to high quality health care at lower cost. But obstacles remain for millions of Americans. I urge the administration to use this success as a springboard for more reforms.