In the tumult of the coronavirus pandemic response — which has exposed significant problems (and opportunities) with how health care is administered — Americans for Prosperity has announced the launch of a major “reimagine” campaign to reform impediments to delivering services to the ill, as well as to “better prepare” the country for another deadly viral outbreak.
There may be the public sentiment to rally behind the effort, and to achieve something dramatic: In a survey AFP conducted last week of 1,000 citizens (results here) concerning the handling of the coronavirus outbreak:
- a majority (58 percent) either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with the claim that “health care rules and regulations previously prevented doctors, nurses, and medical professionals from helping people?”
- 83 percent (including 47 percent “strongly”) contend “America’s health care professionals should have more ﬂexibility to provide health care as they and their patients see ﬁt”
- 77 percent (including 46 percent “strongly”) favor “relaxing health care regulations to give more ﬂexibility to doctors, nurses, and researchers who are ﬁghting coronavirus”
There’s still a show of reservation, though, about any expedited process: The poll reports a majority of Americans (51 percent) believe that after the crisis passes, “Lawmakers should conduct a thorough review of all health care regulations before making a decision on what to do with them.”
What to do as America continues to battle the pathogen? AFP boss Tim Phillips argues “America should take a different approach” to the current regulatory regimen, “one that removes barriers to innovation in our health care system and empowers health care professionals to save more lives,” and proposes four key, immediate actions to reverse laws and regulations that “are restricting the ability of innovators and health experts to slow the spread of this disease or provide life-saving medical treatment — limiting the availability of surgical and N95 masks, preventing qualified doctors and nurses from treating more patients, causing severe shortages of hand sanitizers, and much more.” The quartet of proposals are:
(1) Lock in CMS’s reforms related to telehealth, occupational licensing, physician supervision and signoff, and communication of patient information.
(2) Lock in FDA’s recent moves related to rapid deployment of testing, treatment, and prevention.
(3) Let patients access promising experimental treatments sooner.
(4) Empanel a federal base-closing-style commission to strengthen America’s health care-system.
The strategic proposal also suggests several additional recommendations, including automatically approving drugs and vaccines that have been approved in the EU and Japan; overhauling government restrictions in order to allow the use of drone technology to deliver medicines and medical supplies; and having the federal government pre-commit to buying promising therapies (such as “off-patent” drugs like chloroquine) to encourage their rapid production in bulk.
AFP is describing its effort as a “multi-million dollar campaign” that will include “advertising, digital outreach, lobbying, and grassroots engagement from AFP’s 2.2 million activists.”