MARIETTA — A grassroots proposal to improve America’s health care system came to Marietta on Tuesday, coordinated by the Ohio chapter of Americans for Prosperity and supported by U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.
About a dozen people involved in Marietta’s community and business affairs attended a panel presentation and a question-and-answer session on the topic, billed as a Policy Roundtable on Health care with Congressman Bill Johnson.
The session at the Galley was not aimed at finding out what complaints and difficulties people have as they deal with the many facets of the United States health system. Instead, the nonprofit group has pushed back at the problems with specific proposals contained in its Personal Option legislative agenda. The Personal Option goal, they say, is to free patients from the confusing, restrictive hodgepodge of federal and state regulations that have been put on the books to “help” the health care system.
“We need to remove barriers, give patients more ability to expand their choices, reduce costs and give Americans control over their care,” said Ezra Escudero, AFP Ohio director of coalitions.
“This is the beginning,” Escudero said of the small group before him Tuesday. “We want you to want to learn more, share more, talk with friends and neighbors. That’s how grassroots begins.”
There already have been similar AFP sessions in other parts of Ohio, and the Marietta gathering was the second AFP session with Johnson as one of the panel participants, he said.
“It’s in a later plan to involve elected officials, business and community leaders and members of the health care profession,” Escudero said. “And we hope to organize a nurse and doctor summit as soon as this fall.”
Johnson emphasized his support of the Personal Option proposals.
“In American health care right now, people are paying for things they don’t use or need. There have to be options. When you get options, you get competitiveness, not a captive audience. And competitiveness and a free market made us the greatest country in the world,” said Johnson.
Panel members included Dr. Bernard Bubanic, a physician from the North Canton area who operates a direct care health practice, Integrated Source One, and Jason Edson, deputy director of issue education for AFP and a former EMT.
The four key points of the Personal Option center on quality, affordable insurance; better access to trusted doctors; price transparency; and prescription drugs at lower prices. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, Escudero said of the plan his group has created. Some of the proposal’s points:
— Expand the availability of short-term, renewable health insurance plans, ones offered for 30, 60 or 90 days or up to six months.
— Legalize association health plans where, for example, 10 small businesses with a smaller number of employees can band together and have some leverage in purchasing company-provided health insurance.
— Expand health savings accounts, where pre-tax dollars can be contributed. There are some companies that may match these employee contributions.
— Promote telehealth and telemed, which gained widespread use and acceptance during the COVID onset and have proven to be useful.
— Repeal certificate of need laws and let hospitals and medical facilities offer more services.
— Let nurses deliver care that they are trained for.
— Let doctors and nurses practice across state lines.
— Reform the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, so that new drugs and treatments get to market in a more timely manner.
— Empower direct primary care.
When asked how area residents could help grow the grassroots effort into a strong presence to effect change, Escudero repeated his earlier advice: “Learn more. Share the knowledge. Discuss things with friends and neighbors. Get involved.”
Among the information resources available, residents can check AmericansforProsperity.org, the group’s national site, for information and action items. At the national site, there is a feature to allow access to state sites. There are chapters of Americans for Prosperity throughout the Tri-State Area. There is more specific information on the legislative agenda at PersonalOption.com. Escudero can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.