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AMWA Participates in National Consumers League Conference “Ensuring Consumer Access to Healthcare”

We can all agree on one thing in the aftermath of the election: U.S. healthcare is at a crossroads. AMWA was represented by Past President Diane Helentjaris, MD, MPH at the National Consumers League conference “Ensuring Consumer Access to Healthcare” November 16 in Washington, D.C. Speakers noted that, on the day after the Presidential election, 100,000 people enrolled in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Although the ACA has improved access to healthcare, the specter of increasing costs is sobering. Since 2001, family health care costs have doubled; if the trend of the last three years were to continue unabated for eight more years, 100% of wages would be required to cover them.

Lack of competition in hospital services, poor transparency to consumers in the price of health care, unstable drug prices, spikes in drug prices, social inequities (including inequities in minority involvement in the healthcare workforce) and inefficient use of some players, such as pharmacists, in the provision of health care were all mentioned. The speakers echoed what others have said in recent days: that rather than abolishment, additional ACA modifications should be sought, joining the 24 modifications that have occurred to date, and that any effort to repeal must be joined with immediate replacement.

Value-based medical care and an emphasis on outcomes were supported. Several speakers disagreed with the recently proposed use of block grants for future funding of Medicaid, believing it would be insufficient given the current importance of Medicaid in covering Americans. Today one in five Americans (70 million) rely on Medicaid. The speakers at this conference, though of divergent viewpoints, were in agreement that progress in access has been made but attention to costs is critical.

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