Health Care Freedom: Easier Access to Quality Care
As we head into fall and election season, it is important to realize what is at stake when it comes to health care. At ALEC, we believe that freedom is the key to improving health care in this country. We support deregulation, innovation and choice as the pathway to improvement. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the need for reform in many areas.
Patients need more convenience and easier access to quality health care. Providers need the freedom to practice across state lines and the ability to meet patient demand without getting approval from a bureaucratic commission controlled by their competitors. These are just a few of the issues that are at the center of the health care debate, but they are issues that can have a huge impact on the way we get care.
With people across America in quarantine and practicing social distancing, technology has become an even bigger part of our lives – especially in the field of health care. States scrambled to reform their telehealth laws: to allow for live video conferencing; to allow the store and forward of data; and to allow remote patient monitoring and online drug prescribing. ALEC has supported these policies for years now through publications like our telehealth index.
As governors and legislators quickly lifted regulations to allow these types of services, it became increasingly obvious that professional licensing needed reform to allow patients more access to these services. Patients can now get treatment from a doctor or other health care professional anywhere in the country using telemedicine. The challenge then became how to allow providers to practice across state lines. There are many solutions being proposed, but the goal of them all is more freedom: patients should choose the provider that best suits their needs regardless of location.
The need for freedom in today’s health care system does not stop at the patient. CON laws need to be reformed and “scope of practice” should be expanded for medical professionals.
In addition to the ability to practice across state lines, providers need to be able to expand services and meet patient demand without spending years and thousands of dollars getting approval from a bureaucratic commission, which is controlled by their competitors. Thirty-five states still have some form of Certificate of Need (CON) laws. These laws stifle competition and limit patient access and provide little to no benefit.
Allowing health care providers to practice to the full extent of their training was a hot button topic even before the pandemic. Often referred to as the “scope of practice,” state law dictates what treatments and procedures health care professionals are allowed to administer. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, many states expanded their scope of practice laws for health care professionals in order to meet increased demand and making these changes permanent will give patients more options and providers the ability to use their skills more efficiently.
Americans have a lot at stake regarding the quality and accessibility of health care. Proposals like Medicare for All and single-payer systems will not accomplish any of the goals mentioned above and, in fact, will do the opposite. A one-size-fits-all approach to health care will severely limit options for patients and make it more difficult for providers to meet patient needs. The bottom line is that we need more choice and competition in health care — not less.