Although the Republican effort at health care reform started and ended in nearly the blink of an eye, Americans of all political stripes are continuing to think carefully about health care and have crowdsourced a bill they are tweeting directly to President Donald Trump.
North Richland Hills-based insurance distributor, HealthMarkets, created a nonpartisan advocacy website, ourcarebill.org earlier this year to allow ordinary citizens a chance to create their own “bill,” by answering a series of questions and then tweeting it to President Trump.
The innovative technology crowdsources the answers from all the bills created on the website to create “America’s bill” with the most popular provisions.
Since its introduction, more than 2,000 people have written their own bills and more than 60,000 have watched a “Call to Action” YouTube video on how the process works.
“Most people agree that we still need to improve our health care system and now, more than ever, we need a nonpartisan way to find solutions.”
Michael Z. Stahl
Even though the GOP’s first effort at health care reform failed, Michael Z. Stahl, senior vice president at HealthMarkets and the brainchild behind the online tool, believes it will serve as a way to engage the public to move the health care debate forward. He said the technology could possibly be adopted by others to spur engagement on other important legislative issues.
“Most people agree that we still need to improve our health care system and now, more than ever, we need a nonpartisan way to find solutions,” Stahl said. “We continue to show that when you engage people about the details, they can successfully grapple with the important issues and tradeoffs that are inherent in something as complex and critical as health care. This issue is not going away and we intend to be a force for good as we move forward.”
After the GOP introduced the American Health Care Act, HealthMarkets analyzed how the GOP bill stacked up with the crowdsourced America’s Bill.
Somewhat surprisingly, the majority of those filing bills supported maintaining most of the taxes that were a part of Obamacare, Stahl said. The Medicare surtax on high-income earners received the most support of the various taxes in Obamacare at 63 percent.
The mandate under Obamacare that individuals must purchase health insurance, however, continues to divide — 46 percent favored a repeal of the mandate and 48 percent supported the mandate. Others were undecided. The GOP plan would have retroactively repealed the mandate to Jan. 1, 2016.
“We are clearly pioneering a new way of advocacy that will be an example for how to engage on other significant issues.”
Michael Z. Stahl
The crowdsourced bill also showed 93 percent of people wanted prescription price negotiations as a part of health care reform, but that issue was not addressed in the GOP bill.
The advocacy tool could be an important innovation to move the debate forward, Stahl believes.
“We have set up a platform for calm, thoughtful, constructive engagement on this issue in a way that can inform politicians in the general debate,” Stahl said. “We are clearly pioneering a new way of advocacy that will be an example for how to engage on other significant issues.”
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