U.S. Senator Jack Reed Talks Healthcare Policy with Brown Executive MA Students

U.S. Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island recently met with Brown University Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) students (Class of 2019 and 2020) to share his thoughts on the future of healthcare in the U.S.  His talk provided critical insights for professionals that want to drive healthcare forward in an uncertain regulatory environment.

A U.S. Military Academy West Point graduate, Reed acknowledged the passing of Senator John McCain, referring to his colleague of many years as a “genuine American war hero.” He also shared a moving first hand account of McCain’s famous “thumbs down” vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

While thankful for the failure of the GOP bill, he bemoaned the catastrophic effect on ACA by the Trump Administration’s undermining of the law (underfunding outreach, cutting sign up periods…) and passage of the GOP’s 2017 tax law that removes the ACA’s individual mandate.  Reed predicted that removal of this mandate will drive up rates 10% each year and leave the bill vulnerable to a Texas lawsuit by a number of US Attorney Generals aimed at striking down the federal law as unconstitutional based on the last Supreme Court ruling founded on the US power to tax.

Looking into the future of healthcare in the US, Reed shared that Democrats are fighting a defensive battle at the moment but if the political climate changes, they will try to reinvigorate the ACA’s focus in 2016 by demanding more aggressive outreach, bolstering reimbursements, and integrating new technologies.

He felt that a critical element to the law’s success was stating experimentation, including with models of Medicare for all approaches. He felt a success story was a crucial ingredient for pressuring Washington to move in a similar direction.  He also emphasized the importance of connecting the dots for voters regarding healthcare. For example, he saw an opening to mobilize around the individual mandate by presenting it as an incentivizing mechanism aimed at individual Americans to address health issues at an early and more cost-effective stage. These savings could then be put toward financing the broadly popular mandate for coverage of pre-existing conditions. Senator Reed spoke as part of the course, Navigating the Regulatory Maze, taught by David Dosa, MD, MPH.  Learn more about EMHL’s leadership curriculum here.

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