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March 15, 2016



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Task Force on Health Care Reform Releases Mission Statement

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Task Force on Health Care Reform Releases Mission Statement

Last month, the Task Force on Health Care Reform – organized by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in early 2016 – announced their mission statement, laying out goals for development of a “bold, pro-growth agenda,” which has been a major priority for the Republican constituency. The four committee chairman selected for the task force include Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA), Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX). According to the recent announcement, the agenda will focus on modernizing American health care with “patient-centered solutions that improve access, choice, and quality, lower costs, promote innovation, and strengthen the safety net for the most vulnerable.”

In order to accomplish this mission, the task force suggests that there should be more choices rather than mandates in selecting providers and plans. Another idea that was proposed is fostering competition as well as innovation, which would drive down cost and improve treatment options for patients. Additionally, the task force suggests principles that empower every American with the ability to gain access to coverage that is affordable and portable and that protect the quality of care for all patients – including those with pre-existing conditions.

“To that end, the Chairmen of the House Ways & Means Committee, Energy & Commerce Committee, Education & the Workforce Committee, and Budget Committee are focused on building consensus around specific health care policies that reflect these principles and will hold hearings to advance real patient-centered reforms,” a press release stated.

Some of the reforms that were proposed involve innovations in employer-provided health care coverage, health tax expenditures, reforming broken insurance markets, increasing state flexibility and sustainability in the Medicaid program, and saving and strengthening Medicare. These reforms are reflected in bills that were previously developed by task force members Price and Upton: the Empowering Patients First Act and Patient CARE Act, respectively.

“The Empowering Patients First Act puts patients, families and doctors in charge by focusing on the principles of affordability, accessibility, quality, innovation, choices and responsiveness,” Price stated after introducing his bill. “Those principles form the foundation of the solutions in H.R. 2300 – solutions including individual health pools and expanded health savings accounts, tax credits for the purchase of coverage and lawsuit abuse reforms to reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine. The solutions in the Empowering Patients First Act will get Washington out of the way while protecting and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.”

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AAOS Office of Government Relations intern Rolanda Willacy, of Howard University College of Medicine, was a contributing writer to this article.