The thesis is more of the same from President Obama and his administration: A public option and continued federal interference in health care markets will strengthen and improve the legacy of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The president’s recent submission to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is a personal policy defense of his hallmark health care initiative before the medical community. The president even took the opportunity to go beyond ACA and attacked pharmaceutical manufacturers to relinquish hard-earned intellectual property in the name of pricing transparency, a flawed policy approach that will fail to lower prescription drug prices and only stifle medical innovation and future discovery.
Unfortunately, many of the president’s arguments in the special JAMA article fail to recognize the negative impacts of the law on the already-insured and the employer community, which robustly provides health insurance for nearly half of the nation’s population.
Ninety-eight percent of manufacturers offer health insurance to employees and anxieties continue concerning the possible implementation of the employee benefits tax—a 40 percent surcharge paid by employers on benefits that exceed a certain cost for a family or individual. Furthermore, manufacturers continue to report significant concerns with rising health care costs.
While Congress has granted a delay of the so-called “Cadillac” tax until 2020, the president defended the tax as an incentive to improve private-sector health plans. For employers, the continued uncertainty surrounding the ACA and new bureaucratic entanglements set in motion six years ago have created a headache that has yet to subside.
As the election approaches with a new president and new Congress set to take office in 2017, manufacturers will continue to fight senseless red tape that obstructs the ability to offer quality health care. A permanent repeal of the Cadillac tax and the punitive medical device tax are top priorities post-November, as both provisions of the ACA have come to represent balance transfers from productive profit centers to a Rube Goldberg machine that is our health care system. Manufacturers will continue to lead by providing health benefits to employees and will support efforts that make it easier, not harder, to provide these important benefits.