The new year brings new beginnings. Fresh starts. A renewed focus.
For many people, this means a recommitment to personal goals – perhaps they’ll try to eat healthier in 2019 or get more exercise or lose those last, stubborn 10 pounds for good.
While individual betterment is certainly commendable, the start of the year is also a time to rethink the whole concept of New Year’s resolutions.
What about a collective resolution to improve our country’s health care system? Health care was the top issue for voters in the recent midterm elections. Just under half of those surveyed mentioned it, while 70% said the system needs major changes.
And where better to start than with the 116th Congress? The House of Representatives, whose members were sworn in on January 3, includes the most diverse and progressive freshman class in history. The moment is ripe with promise to get things done.
Here are the top 5 most pressing needs:
- Protect children. Too many kids are falling through the cracks. Programs designed to catch them – Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – are not doing the job.
- Protect patients with preexisting conditions. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has dramatically improved the ability of people with preexisting conditions to buy coverage. One of the most basic things we can do is preserve these protections rather than poke holes in them. Americans, overwhelming, support this idea.
- Lower prescription drug prices. Many people can’t afford their medications. For older adults in particular, this problem is especially acute.
- Expand Medicaid. As many as 5 million low-income people are caught in the Medicaid gap. They earn too much money to be eligible, but too little to get subsidized coverage on the ACA exchange. This is especially acute in states that have not expanded Medicaid.
- Fix the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If you can’t fix it, change it. People still battle disease, the aging still need their medications and children still need basic health care, just to name a few reasons why we need to fix the ACA. Congress must be savvy. If they can’t fix the ACA they need to come up with a new health care law that tackles our most pressing problems. It’s one of the few issues unifying Americans as 2019 gets underway.