Special Report—8 ways to fix the Affordable Care Act

Even former President Barack Obama knows his signature healthcare reform law, the Affordable Care Act, has problems.

No one is saying the Affordable Care Act is perfect. Even former President Barack Obama admitted Obamacare has its shortcomings. So why have efforts to repeal, replace or repair it failed in such spectacular fashion?

Part of the problem is that healthcare is hard. (Who knew?) It’s a big, expensive, complex and highly regulated industry that accounts for one-sixth of the nation’s economy and, quite literally, involves matters of life and death.

As the summer winds down and Congress prepares to get back to business, we hope that healthcare reform doesn’t fall off the agenda. President Donald Trump vacillates between demanding that Congress take immediate action—suggesting he’ll sign just about anything that crosses his desk—and threatening to let the ACA fail.

Neither tactic is viable.

In this special report, FierceHealthcare’s editors—experts on the business of healthcare who cover hospitals, health systems, physician practices, insurance companies, health information technology and healthcare finance every day—outline some of the ideas, programs and reforms that hold the most potential to heal the nation’s healthcare system.

It starts with politics, as in knock off the bipartisan bickering and get to work. Hold hearings and get input from the people who are the heart of healthcare, from doctors and nurses to health insurance executives to patients and their advocates.

And while the nature of compromise is that no one will be totally happy with the outcome, buy-in is more likely when there’s real dialogue, transparency and honesty.

That dialogue can start with the ideas presented in this report, which explains how the U.S. can:

  1. Work to find common ground and easy wins ... and cool off the political rhetoric. 
  2. Stabilize individual insurance marketplaces while lowering premiums and staving off the “death spiral.”
  3. Fix healthcare regulations so they free, rather than strangle, those who are trying to make the system better.
  4. Continue to build reimbursement models that encourage providers to improve quality and lower costs.
  5. Harness the power of technology and innovation to cut costs and improve access to care.
  6. Reform how—and control how much—the country pays for healthcare, including tests, procedures and prescriptions.
  7. Ask industry stakeholders for input—especially the clinicians who are the heart of the healthcare system.
  8. Let states lead the way with Medicaid innovation and other reforms.

Scroll down to the table of contents and click on the links for more details about these and other Affordable Care Act fixes.