Although voters have delivered the 2020 presidential election to President-elect Joe Biden, Americans across the political spectrum agree on one major issue: A preference for commonsense, market-based incentives in the healthcare sector over heavy-handed government control.
Before the election, COVID-19 understandably stood among the most pressing issues on voters’ minds in casting their ballots.
When it came to healthcare more generally, however, voters remained concerned about access to high-quality care and out-of-pocket costs. And in their minds, the solutions to those concerns simply do not include more government control.
As we found in a survey of voters nationally and in 12 key swing states ahead of the November election, when it comes to healthcare costs, 70 percent of voters overwhelmingly prefer the federal government’s role as providing oversight and incentives to healthcare providers, prescription drug companies and health insurers in order to encourage competition to lower prices.
That incentive-based approach was favored over government price-setting and dictation of services and medicines that private health plans can or must cover (30 percent).
That lopsided result certainly played out in down-ballot voting, as Republicans gained seats in the House of Representatives and likely will hold the Senate despite President-elect Biden’s presidential victory.
Accordingly, given that voters’ highest priority healthcare issue is addressing the cost of health insurance coverage, the American people seem to have delivered a resounding rejection of any possible Medicare-for-All or Medicare “public option” that is the anchor policy prescription in “Bidencare.”
Indeed, senior citizens, which have the most experience with government-run health insurance coverage, is the group most opposed to that approach.
Simply put, voters are just not on board with heavy-handed government intervention in healthcare. By overwhelming margins, voters support a systematic approach that addresses the specific drivers of healthcare costs in lieu of a one-size-fits-all, top-down policy prescription.
It’s also worth noting that in our current hyper-partisan environment, that holds true across parties.
In recent years, lawmakers on both sides have offered proposals attempting to limit the coverage individuals can receive, what medicines are covered and what treatments are deemed affordable enough — all decisions government bureaucrats would make for you, not your healthcare provider.
But one need only look to Europe to see how such policies have fared. In a word: terribly. Those policies ultimately mean reduced access to new cancer treatments, long waits to see specialists, denial of coverage and other myriad unintended consequences.
Moreover, implementing heavy-handed healthcare policies that increase government control right now would be even more devastating than normal, due to the pandemic.
After all, it has been American companies and research that are leading the way to new treatments and vaccines to fight the virus and have led to better, quicker recoveries for individuals.
COVID-19 has made the value of that incentive-based approach even clearer, with record-shattering vaccine breakthroughs and promising other developments from the pharmaceutical industry this month.
The U.S. market-oriented system, coupled with a strong protection of intellectual property, incentivizes companies to invest and take risks that lead to monumental breakthroughs. All of us benefit as a result.
American innovation is proving yet again why incentives and competition work.
That makes it imperative for Biden to reject calls to federalize the entire system, import price controls from foreign nations, or weaken our intellectual property system.
Incoming lawmakers and regulators must understand that the American people value the system that leads the world in access and innovation and support targeted incentives and other free-market policies that build on the progress we have made so far.
If government has a role to play, it is supporting the innovators and competition that has us on the verge of beating this virus, just like it has done throughout the pandemic.
Handicapping innovators would erase decades of progress, needlessly prolong the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce patients’ treatment options and access to the medicines they need.