Policy Documents

A Cure for what Ails Us

Justin Owen, Trey Moore, & Christina Weber –
October 8, 2012

In this policy report, the authors contend that the United States healthcare system is broken, and politicians in Washington, D.C. have consistently failed to deliver on promises to repair it. Healthcare costs continue to grow while access shrinks. Claims that the most recent round of reforms will buck this trend are presented dubiously with hedging effect, and many expect the reforms to weaken the system further. For many industry leaders, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) amounts to reform in name only, effectively treating what are internal medical problems with Band-Aids. While PPACA was largely a partisan battle to which Democrats claim victory, it has not been without critics from its own camp. In describing the healthcare reform law, former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, said, “Congress and the Obama Administration have just added over thirty million more people into an obsolete and broken system and done little to address the underlying problems."

While healthcare policy is one dictated largely at the federal level, there nonetheless exists a real opportunity for state lawmakers to affect meaningful change for citizens of their states. Such state-led healthcare reforms have the potential to reduce costs of healthcare services and insurance, thereby expanding access to quality care for more Americans.

The current predicaments facing Tennessee policymakers in the wake of PPACA are dire and will not move our nation’s healthcare system in the right direction, treating the diseases that weaken our healthcare system rather than the mere symptoms. Policymakers should then embark on an effort to implement a variety of free market healthcare solutions, including measures that help Tennesseans free themselves from dependence on employer-based insurance policies, enable and encourage the purchase of insurance across state lines, reduce insurance coverage mandates, protect mid- level scope of practice, and enact medical licensing reform. Such changes will make great strides toward reducing the costs of both health insurance and healthcare, providing for greater access to both among Tennesseans.