Election season is over, and the voters have spoken. Arizonans decided Senator Mark Kelly best represented their interests and rewarded him with his first full, six-year term.
There were many key differences between the candidates, but the issue of healthcare was the most glaring. Senator Kelly made lowering out-of-pocket costs a central tenet of his campaign. His opponent did not.
And, with 83% of Arizona voters saying they feel the amount they pay for health care is increasing every year, it’s no wonder his position resonated with the electorate.
Although Congress seems perpetually mired in gridlock, there were positive developments in 2022 on the healthcare front. The No Surprises Act went into effect shielding patients from surprise medical bills, and passage of the Inflation Reduction Act was another step toward hopefully lowering drug prices.
However, Americans, by and large, believe more can be achieved to deliver additional cost-saving reforms to patients.
As we move into 2023, below are a few areas Senator Kelly and Senator Sinema might tackle in the New Year.
Expand mental healthcare coverage
There are 60 million Americans with mental health conditions, and nearly half of them go without any treatment despite mental health parity laws. A recent poll indicates 91% of voters in Arizona believe insurance companies should cover mental health care.
Simply put, we are not doing enough for some of the most vulnerable among us or recognizing that mental and physical health are related. Insurance companies should be required to cover more mental health services and make it easier for patients to locate providers.
Regulate short-term limited-duration insurance plans
Sixty-five percent of Americans believe we can significantly lower healthcare costs by preventing insurance companies from selling junk plans that cover so few medical services that going to the doctor isn’t affordable. These plans fall outside the scope of the ACA and the fine print ends up hurting consumers more than protecting them.
Some STLDI plans are reported to spend less than $0.10 for every premium dollar spent by consumers, leading to mounting out-of-pocket expenses and ultimately medical debt.
Ban copay accumulator adjustment programs
Follow Arizona’s lead! CAAPs shift prescription medicine costs from insurance companies to patients by blocking financial assistance from counting toward a patient’s deductible or their total out-of-pocket costs. Arizona banned this practice in 2019 and it’s time to extend that initiative nationwide.
These are three reforms I believe can find bipartisan support with the right leadership. Health care remains a contentious issue, so states will need to step up to be responsive to their citizens.
Yet, that doesn’t preclude meaningful change from occurring in Washington, D.C. that improves coverage and lowers out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Senator Kelly and Senator Sinema would be wise to take the optimism that comes with a new year and harness it into results for the American people.