There are many challenges facing the governors and state lawmakers across the U.S. who will soon be gaveling in their 2019 legislative sessions. Among the most pressing are rising health care costs and the lack of access to care that has become a crisis in certain parts of the country, particularly in rural areas.
The increasing cost of health care greatly affects state budgets and the allocation of taxpayer dollars. Medicaid is now the largest category of state government spending and also the fastest growing, expanding faster than spending on education and transportation. As a result, public health and the health of public finances are increasingly intertwined.
This reality makes the development and enactment of policy reforms that can bend the health care cost curve one of the best and most important uses of time for legislators and governors when they reconvene in state capitals starting in January. Yet at that same time that lawmakers formulate policies and introduce bills aimed at reducing health care costs, they also must be wary of misguided proposals by fellow lawmakers and regulators that would increase the cost of health care and reduce access.
One example of the sort of misguided, health care cost-increasing proposals that lawmakers need to be on the lookout for, one that keeps cropping year after year, are the efforts by some state dental boards and dental associations to pass new legislation or regulations that would hinder dentists’ freedom to contract with service providers that can better handle the non-clinical aspects of their practice, thereby freeing up dentists to spend more time on patient care.
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