The often-quoted phrase, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” aptly applies to the current approach to health care policy. Americans regularly experience a political tug-of-war, with each party pulling policy in their own direction without truly reforming our broken system for the benefit of the patient.
Yet both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that reform is desperately needed, with candidates promising to make health care more affordable and accessible. So, why is there never a solution that truly accomplishes these goals?
Potential for reform will always be limited by the motivations and perspectives of elected officials. Free-market principles can only advance if candidates who prioritize patient rights, physician autonomy, and medical privacy are elected. These issues are often complex, and understandably, many voters feel too overwhelmed to seek out pertinent information on candidates’ positions. Nevertheless, because health policy effects every Minnesotan, prospective politicians should be asked their stance on the five issues outlined below.
The role of government in health care. A candidate committed to health freedom believes the government’s role is very limited. Its job is to remove the regulations, restrictions, and costs that are creating the corporate monopolies that reduce competition, raise costs, and drive doctors and hospitals away from personalized, patient-centered, and affordable care. For example, a candidate could support repealing Minnesota’s hospital moratorium law, which makes it difficult for smaller competitors to enter the market, leading to higher prices.
Patient access to personalized care. A candidate should support legislation that requires hospitals to allow treatment to be directed by the patient’s trusted physician who knows them best. They should support laws that allow patients to have an advocate of their own choice present in the exam room. They should also support legislation that will prohibit hospitals from refusing to discharge a dissatisfied patient who wants to transfer their care elsewhere, as was seen with many COVID patients.
Access to affordable health insurance. Candidates should support laws that restore high-deductible medical indemnity policies (real insurance) and repeal the Affordable Care Act ban on catastrophic insurance for people over age 29. This would allow Americans to have insurance that is flexible, portable and affordable, giving them full choice of practitioners, facilities and treatment.
Protecting medical privacy in Minnesota. Candidates should assure constituents that they will actively uphold patient privacy rights by protecting the Minnesota Health Records Act (MHRA) — the strongest state privacy law in the nation — and its consent requirements (144.293). The MHRA protects patients from HIPAA, which is a permissive federal data-sharing rule. Protecting the MHRA upholds the law’s requirements that prohibit medical data from being shared without the patient’s informed consent.
Digital tracking and control. Candidates should oppose the federally controlled REAL ID and the move toward digital, trackable and government-controlled identification documents. REAL ID has been imposed by the federal government with the acquiescence of state legislatures. This national ID has been called a “usurpation” of states’ rights, and a threat to personal privacy and national security. REAL ID could lead to a “no card, no care” system, limiting a patient’s access to care that is free from tracking and outside interference. Digitized IDs, including driver’s licenses, link directly to government databases, facilitating tracking of purchases, location, doctor’s visits and more.
If voters want to see affordable, patient-centered reform instead of the constant back and forth pull of politically biased policies, they should elect candidates who align with the above issues. Individuals should look for candidates who will prioritize patient and physician freedom and work to protect the bedrock of that freedom — medical privacy rights.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not represent an official position of Alpha News.