Gary Loveman is chairman, chief executive officer and president of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, and chair of Business Roundtable's Health and Retirement Committee.
In what may be one of the most consequential rulings in recent history, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of the outcome, America's health care system will still cost too much for American workers and their families. As healthcare providers to nearly 40 million beneficiaries, the CEOs of Business Roundtable are focused on the reforms that will continue to be needed the day after the court hands down its decision.
Business Roundtable CEOs held fast to three guiding principles when Congress debated the healthcare reform legislation: We opposed a public plan or any other route to increase government control of healthcare; we supported employer-sponsored coverage and access to competitive health insurance products for employers of all sizes; and we pressed for greater innovation to empower consumers, contain costs, and create a stronger private health care marketplace.
These principles reflect our values. We firmly believe that greater transparency, more consumer choice, and a stronger private market will lead to increased efficiency, higher quality, and lower costs. Consumers should be empowered with more information on the costs and quality of care. Consumers need greater opportunities to be engaged in their healthcare decisions, and the motivation to participate in wellness and prevention programs. As a nation, we all need to find ways to spend our healthcare resources wisely. And, we need to support a principle that we must find a way, within our existing resources, to cover the uninsured. Today, they receive services—but without coordination and many times in the most expensive settings. Our commitment to these principles will remain strong whatever the court decides.
Healthcare costs remain the number one cost pressure on U.S. businesses, and they also represent a competitive disadvantage. While America spends more on healthcare than other major developed countries, it is not at all evident that American families consistently receive greater value for those expenditures. These cost pressures make it more difficult for U.S. businesses to provide options for affordable care to employees and their families. These pressures also make it harder to compete around the world against companies with lower healthcare costs.
Whatever their views on the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Republicans and Democrats can still both agree that the current healthcare system does not work for American families. It is not a rational system. Healthcare in the United States is delivered by independent, uncoordinated entrepreneurs who are often behind the curve on information technology and get paid by third parties—including taxpayers—on the basis of volume, rather than quality or value.
The result undermines the work of America's doctors, nurses and hospitals, who are the best in the world. They are particularly good at developing and deploying medical innovation. But they often operate as independent actors, presenting the healthcare consumer—who may be in no position to make informed decisions—with a bewildering and treacherous landscape to traverse to get the care they need.
Independence, entrepreneurship, and excellence are core American values, and they are reflected in the nation's healthcare system. That system would be far more effective, however, if it also embodied the core American strengths, ones we know from the business world: An emphasis on systemwide efficiency, managerial excellence, consumer choice, and the innovative use of information technology. As CEOs, we see this as a management problem, but the inefficiencies are frozen in place by a policy environment that frustrates innovation and fails to reward efficiency.
An unnecessarily costly healthcare system shackles U.S. productivity and economic growth. A healthier workforce with access to high-quality affordable healthcare options would create a stronger foundation for sustained growth and increased U.S. competitiveness. That's a goal everyone can agree on, even in the face of political disputes over specifics.