12.09.2020 / Press Release
Consumers First 2021 Legislative Agenda Aims to Void Inefficiencies Driving High-Cost, Low-Quality Health Care for Families, Working People, and Employers
As COVID-19 continues to erode the health and financial well-being of families across the country, Consumers First is working to strengthen our health care system. On December 9, the coalition released its 2021 legislative agenda, Policy Solutions to Drive Value into the U.S. Health Care System in the 117th Congress, that urges policymakers to address the inefficiencies, inequities and market failures in the U.S. health care system that drive high-cost, low-quality care and that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Consumers First, the alliance that brings together the interests of families and children, working people, employers, and primary care, feels it is critical for Congress to address the underlying problems in the health care system that have been compounded by COVID-19.
The alliance is calling on Congress to implement reforms across five key policy areas focused on driving value and delivery for the health care system in 2021:
- Drive Down Costs by Addressing Consolidated Health Care Markets;
- Lower Prescription Drug Costs;
- Improve Price and Quality Transparency throughout the Health Care System;
- Establish National Data Sharing and Interoperability Standards to Reduce Waste and Improve Health Care Quality;
- Develop and Implement a National Health Workforce Strategy
“COVID-19 further exposed the problems with our health care system, but also gave us a blueprint for change in order to address existing disparities in health and health care,” said Sophia Tripoli, Director of Health Care Innovations at Families USA. “Congress has an opportunity to embrace this movement in the nation towards a more just and equitable health care system by working to address the factors that are making it difficult for consumers to access affordable, high-quality health care—such as high costs, consolidated markets, and lack of price and quality transparency.”
“Eventually, if not soon enough, this pandemic will pass. In the meantime, we need to give employer-sponsored health plans the support and tools they need to maintain the high-quality coverage that so many working families rely upon,” said Ilyse Schuman, senior vice president, health policy at American Benefits Council. “And when the storm does pass, we need to seize the opportunity to make lasting, structural reforms that keep this coverage affordable.”
“The inequities and deficiencies of the U.S. healthcare system have been put on full display during the COVID-19 crisis, but these disparities plagued our families long before the pandemic, putting far too many of us one illness or injury away from bankruptcy, and making care far too out of reach for communities of color, rural neighborhoods, and others in need,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “This profits over people mentality puts our caregivers and our patients at risk. There has never been a more critical time for Congress to seek policy solutions that put the health needs of patients and communities ahead of all else in our healthcare system.”
“Americans have made it clear that they want greater access to affordable, high-quality health care,” said Averi Pakulis, Vice President for Early Childhood and Public Health Policy at First Focus on Children. “We look forward to working with the new Congress to make sure that they give children fair and equal consideration as they improve the quality, transparency and equity of our nation’s health care system through the Consumer’s First legislative agenda. Lawmakers must ensure that improvements treat children and adults comprehensively, including through behavioral health; erase racial disparities that impact both children and adults; and include children in expanded data collection designed to improve health care.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the enormous systemic challenges facing the U.S. health system. Despite spending far more money than any other country on health care, our system was woefully unprepared when faced with the most significant public health crisis we’ve seen in a century,” said Shawn Gremminger, Director of Health Policy at Pacific Business Group on Health. “Many health industry leaders would like to solve this problem by throwing even more money into a broken and bloated system. Health care purchasers know that instead, we need to tackle the underlying dysfunctions in our health system that have allowed entrenched health care interests to drive up prices without being held accountable for quality, all while failing to address persistent disparities in health care. We need aggressive federal action, and we need it yesterday.”
Consumers First is an alliance that brings together the interests of families and children, working people, employers, and primary care working to change the fundamental economic incentives and design of the health care system. Our goal is to realign the incentives and design of health care so that the system truly delivers the health and high-quality care that all families across our nation deserve.