Bob Kocher, M.D., is a member of APCO’s Health Advisory Board. He previously served as special assistant to the president for health care and economic policy and as a member of the National Economic Council.
It is with great relief and high hopes that I write this blog after the Supreme Court upholds virtually all of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I think this decision removes a great deal of uncertainty and helps spur investment and innovation to make our health care system better: most affordable, more convenient and more likely to deliver consistently good outcomes.
Finally, we can join the rest of the developed world with a system that provides health care for all its citizens. We can jettison the days of haphazard access to emergency room care without access to the care needed to keep people out of high-cost emergency rooms. Moreover, workers will not be locked in jobs simply to keep their health coverage with the advent of Exchanges.
It is also terrific that the innovations spurred by the ACA continue. Policies put in place to change the payment model from fee-for-service to approaches that reward both cost savings and better outcomes will gain momentum. Medicare will continue to have the ability to scale Innovation Center pilots that save money without having to get permission from Congress, where many promising ideas have died in the past. Needed improvements like the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute will now continue. Remnants of prior legislation like the prescription drug donut hole in Medicare will now be fixed. Anyone who has an illness, or a college-age child, is relieved as well now that they are assured access to insurance and cannot be discriminated against with unaffordable premiums based on age, gender or health status.
As a venture capitalist, today’s ruling creates an even greater opportunity to invest in innovative companies focused on bending down the cost curve, improving outcomes and creating more effective health care marketplaces. As we expand coverage, we will need more tools to help consumers shop for care, suppliers to redesign their products and services to be more productive, and innovators to re-imagine how to engage doctors and patients in preventing complications and exercising value-consciousness.
By adding up to 30 million new customers, creating new Exchange marketplaces, and removing ambiguity about Federal policy, I am hopeful that the health care sector will continue innovating faster than ever. Fortunately, health care can bring to bear all we know from other sectors about how to use IT to improve productivity, technology to engage consumers, and big data to improve and personalize the care experience to make health care as pleasurable and reliable as every other consumer experience in America.
Today’s decision reaffirms a major step forward for America and accelerates innovation to make our health system more affordable, more accessible and higher quality.