On January 18, 2011, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) hosted Reforming the Health Policy Debate, an event to mark the official launch of the BPC’s new Health Project. The press conference featured the project’s leaders, former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Bill Frist and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. At the event, Senators Daschle and Frist and Governor Strickland highlighted the new BPC initiative dedicated to developing bipartisan and workable solutions to transform the nation’s healthcare system.
“We know there remains a great political divide over the future of the health care system, but the need for substantive discussions and cooperation in working toward our shared goals has never been greater,” Senator Daschle said. “An economically sustainable health system that achieves better quality medical care at lower cost is in all of our shared interests.”
On the heels of the Leaders’ Project on the State of American Health Care, the new Health Project will unite policymakers and industry stakeholders over their shared interest in reforming the health care system. In 2009, the Leaders’ Project produced a comprehensive health reform plan that could win support from both Republicans and Democrats. Now that health reform has been signed into law, the Health Project will convene state, federal, business and workforce leaders for substantive collaboration in support of developing a bipartisan approach to help states meet their ongoing cost, coverage and regulatory demands.
All three leaders expressed their enthusiasm for the Health Project and the importance of working across the aisle to forge consensus and create lasting change. “We do have differences,” explained Governor Strickland, but “we are committing ourselves to working together on this joint effort because we know how important it is.”
While ideological divides remain, and the new law will undoubtedly continue to face serious political, regulatory and cultural hurdles, the law is the law until it is not, and states must move forward with implementation and take advantage of the opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act. “It is not the bill that [Republicans] would have written, and it is not the bill that I would have drafted, but it is the law of the land,” Senator Frist said. “It is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based and that is a fact.”
The BPC Health Project will focus its work on insurance exchanges, insurance reforms, health information technology, health professional workforce issues and medical malpractice reform and will provide state leaders access to unbiased information as they seek to make informed and educated decisions about health reform.
As President Obama reiterated in the State of the Union, “instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.” The Health Project is committed to providing policymakers and industry and workforce leaders a safe space for collaboration and partnership, understanding that failure to achieve greater bipartisan support for necessary changes will compromise the chances of lasting and viable health system reforms.