Access to quality healthcare is a right that belongs to every American. The Affordable Care Act achieved a historic milestone when it turned this principle into law. It is the task of this Congress and the next generation of Americans to continue to honor this right in the face of rising healthcare costs.
As we strengthen and streamline our healthcare system so that it can accommodate the increasing demands of a larger and an older population, we must improve system-wide efficiency by coordinating comprehensive care. From full implementation of the ACA’s provisions to long-term Medicare financing to the demands of caring for an aging population, our country’s healthcare system will require new and thoughtful approaches to efficiency, cost containment, and innovation.
A variety of approaches to long-term cost reduction deserve our consideration. A stronger pipeline of primary care practitioners could help us transition from a fee for service model to a global payments system. Global payments can decrease patient costs and can also link provider compensation to patient outcome, incentivizing prevention and high-quality care.
As we continue to seek the new treatments and technologies that lower costs and improve outcomes, we will need to make a sustained commitment to research. That’s why we must protect and prioritize funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as we make tough choices about federal spending and deficit reduction. Massachusetts receives more per capita NIH funding than any other state. This funding quite literally saves lives – its protection is a moral and economic imperative. NIH support for AIDS research, for example, has significantly decreased the amount of deaths from the disease. We can make similar gains in Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes and autism – but we must fund the research that gets us there. If we are serious about health care costs, then we have to focus on chronic conditions.
Federal funding for research allows us to continue the pursuit of breakthrough technologies in healthcare. We will need to continue and accelerate these discoveries as our healthcare system faces unprecedented demographic demands. The United States has built that world’s leading medical schools and research hospitals through a commitment to education, research, and innovation. If we maintain this focus today, we will also be able to maintain our commitment to ensuring that every American has access to quality healthcare.
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