Last week, the Center, collaborating with other advocates, provided comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Request for Information (RFI): Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States. Our comments called on the Administration to be more transparent when issuing RFIs, to ensure broad feedback from stakeholders and the general public. HHS chose to release this RFI as “informal” and bypass publication in the Federal Register, an action that suppresses important feedback from critical stakeholders and limits public awareness.
Some of the objectives of HHS as stated in the RFI are to “lower barriers to entry and improve access to and the quality of information that Americans need to make informed healthcare decisions.” In our comments we indicate that these objectives will not be accomplished unless the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is fully implemented. The ACA is the law of the land, and HHS is legally obligated to implement the law. The RFI describes ACA insurance as “expensive” and “mandate laden.” Such negative language is further evidence of the Administration’s goal to let the ACA fail. The American people deserve access to affordable, quality health coverage. Any attempt to weaken the ACA or its essential benefits through regulation is unacceptable and must be rejected.
Concerning Medicare, we agreed that people with Medicare and other health care consumers must be given all the information, tools, assistance, guidance, and protection from unscrupulous actors they need in order to make the best choices for their particular, unique, circumstances. We provided suggestions to help people with Medicare benefit from changes within the program that would increase their ability to make informed choices, get the care they want and need, and hold plans accountable for failing to meet their obligations.