Looking at the Future to Build Healthcare Openness and Access

According to the 2020 Healthcare Openness and Access Project (HOAP) report pre-released by the Mercatus Center, New York is ranked 49 out of 51 (50 states plus Washington D.C.) in terms of overall openness and access to healthcare.

“I'm pleased that Gov. Cuomo has taken decisive steps to not only ‘flatten the curve,’ but also ‘raise the ceiling’ by building up our state’s healthcare capacity,” said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac) “That notwithstanding, HOAP 2020 highlights that the need to increase our state's healthcare capacity, openness and accessibility, existed long before COVID-19 hit our state. Once we get through this pandemic, our state government needs to take a deeper look at its laws and regulations so we can increase access to better care and serve all New Yorkers.”

The HOAP 2020 report is the result of a collection of state-by-state comparative data on the flexibility and discretion that US patients and providers have in seeking and delivering healthcare. HOAP utilizes the data to create 41 indicators of openness and accessibility which are aggregated into five broad categories: professional regulation, institutional regulation, patient regulation, payment regulation, and delivery regulation.

Regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, the report stated, "In a few short weeks, COVID-19 extended outside China, swept across more than 100 countries (hitting Western Europe especially hard), and began spreading across the United States. To slow the contagion and prevent it from overwhelming healthcare systems (as it has in Italy), large swaths of the world economy have begun shutting down. People are staying home, as social distancing and self-isolation become the key to ‘flattening the curve.’

HOAP suggests a complementary strategy that might be called ‘raising the ceiling’—increasing healthcare system capacity to lessen the need to flatten the curve. HOAP stresses policies that maximize the capacity of patients and providers to improvise and innovate. And, as states experiment with the lessons of HOAP in time of emergency, perhaps they will find these ideas more appealing for the calmer times that will follow this pandemic.

Utilizing his emergency executive powers, Gov. Cuomo has already taken bold steps to help streamline access to telemedicine. The governor also has rolled back state regulations to allow healthcare providers and institutions to do more good with less government red tape holding them back, growing the state's healthcare capacity at record speed.

“I hope that once this crisis is over, we continue to grow as a state, having learned from our experiences throughout this crisis,” said Byrne. “We can then ultimately revisit some of these issues and have a serious discussion about how we can increase openness and access in our state's healthcare system. As New York State continues to work towards increasing healthcare capacity to address the growing need from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it's important to learn from this experience and commit to revisit, in a non-emergency setting, the state's red tape imposed on our healthcare system.”

(Find the full report here: https://www.mercatus.org/hoap-2020/covid-19-health-policy-recommendations-increasing-access-care-states)