Nov 15, 2016 - 2:45pm

Government Must Minimize Health Care Disruptions By Acting as a Good Business Partner


Doctor and patients at a clinic.
Photo credit: Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

President-Elect Donald Trump will bring dramatic change in 2017, especially when it comes to health care.

But before then, Congress is back for its lame duck session.

Regarding health care legislation, Washington should heed the advice of the Wall Street Journal editorial board on “the need to minimize disruptions” [subscription required].

While the editorial board’s words are in the context of repealing the Affordable Care Act next year, they also apply to Congress’ work over the next few weeks.

As Bruce Josten, the executive vice president for Government Affairs at the U.S. Chamber, writes in The Hill, the federal government needs to minimize disruptions by being a good business partner and “not engage in actions that negatively impact American businesses or the people they serve.”

One proposal of particular concern in the short-term involves calls to alter the current premium stabilization and risk-sharing programs. Failing to continue to implement these programs will have a crippling impact on the private health insurance market, which should ultimately be the backbone of any Republican solution to this nation’s healthcare challenges.

Let’s not forget: When these stabilization programs began, private sector companies were required to reduce the cost of their products by lowering premiums up front and paying medical claims in full. The programs were designed to provide a critical backstop for companies that incur high-cost and unexpected claims.

Changing these programs after the fact would be an abandonment of the basic principle that if private companies are playing by the rules, the government must act as a good business partner and hold up its end of the deal. To be sure, private companies in many industries make business decisions based on agreed-upon rules.

The government cannot expect businesses or even whole industry sectors to function properly if changes are unexpectedly made to those rules in the middle of already negotiated products and agreements.

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