Weekly Column: Working Hard For Idahoans As Finance Committee Ranking Member--Health Care Focus
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I continue to bring Idaho values of conservatism and commonsense to the work of the Committee. In a three-part guest column series, I am outlining priorities in three key areas of the Committee’s jurisdiction—tax, health care and trade. This second of the three columns is focused on federal health care priorities. In the 117th Congress, I intend to work with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and all members of the Committee, as we have worked together in the past, building off previous successes, including developing policies that will expand access to affordable, quality health care.
Access To Affordable, Quality Health Care—Ensuring access to effective and affordable health care is one of the greatest challenges facing the health profession, insurers, and local, state and federal governments. The burden high insurance and medical costs place on working families and seniors with fixed incomes needs to be addressed. We must take steps to make health care more affordable for Idahoans and ensure access to a variety of coverage options.
Lessons From COVID-19—The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged institutional health care, and public health providers and first responders across Idaho and our country have worked tirelessly to adapt responses. But, it has also proven that certain health care flexibilities can result in faster incorporation of innovative items and services, and should be considered as permanent solutions in some cases. In the past year, the expansion of telehealth and flexibilities in site of service location, permitted technology and provider scope of practice requirements have significantly contributed to the delivery of more efficient care. Further, we have experienced firsthand the value of private sector innovation. When novel medical products come to market, it is essential that all patients have timely access, regardless of the source of their insurance. We must work to make our federal health care programs more responsive to innovation, so that providers in Idaho and nationwide are equipped with the resources necessary to deliver the highest level of care.
Tackling Medicare Solvency—We must also work to ensure the long-term solvency of our health care programs. For too long, Medicare has faced substantial financial shortfalls that must be addressed legislatively. Absent congressional intervention, the program could become insolvent in a matter of years. It is time for Congress, in a bipartisan manner, to put Medicareon firm fiscal footing. By ensuring the program’s solvency, we can protect Medicare benefits for Idaho seniors today and promise future beneficiaries that they will receive health care in retirement.
Because of its vast jurisdiction, covering so many important issues that broadly impact the lives of all Americans, the efforts in the Finance Committee too often are dominated by partisan debates and posturing on big picture national issues, including when it comes to expanding access to affordable and quality health care. These partisan debates and messaging exercises can overshadow the important, substantive and often bipartisan efforts of thoughtful and capable members. As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I will continue to be a voice for Idaho in working across the aisle to make a positive difference in shaping important policy affecting the lives of Idahoans and all Americans.