Press Release

West Health Launches National Initiative Holding Congress Accountable for Reducing the High Cost of Healthcare

3 min
July 11, 2017

Voters urged to contact legislators about reforming healthcare to address high costs in a sustainable way

SAN DIEGO, CA – July 11, 2017 – Why does healthcare cost so much? Why does the United States pay so much more for so much less than other developed countries? How does cutting benefits for those most vulnerable, including seniors and the poor, make sense for a country as successful and caring as ours? These are all questions that deserve answers, especially now.

In the midst of the debate over legislation that will reshape healthcare in America, West Health, a family of nonpartisan and nonprofit organizations dedicated to enabling seniors to successfully age, today announces a nationwide initiative to engage voters on the core issues that contribute to high healthcare costs and create accountability among elected officials to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

“U.S. healthcare spending is inappropriately high and woefully inefficient, consuming almost 18 percent of our gross domestic product. Americans pay more and get less. Reform choices made now will impact all of us, especially the most vulnerable, for years to come,” said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of West Health. “The current healthcare bills now under consideration do not get to the root of the problem—healthcare costs too much in America. To lower the cost of healthcare in a long-term, sustainable way, we must hold our legislators accountable for addressing the core issues that historically and continually create high healthcare costs.”

The United States spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare in 2015—almost $10,000 per person—yet Americans have lower life expectancy and worse health outcomes than other high-income nations. The burden of healthcare costs is negatively impacting Americans, with a third reporting difficulty paying their medical bills, making medical debt the leading source of personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S. Nearly a third of seniors are struggling to get by, with Medicare only paying for about 60 percent of seniors’ total healthcare costs.

Addressing the rising costs of healthcare is crucial to any reform discussion, especially with America experiencing a profound demographic shift as approximately 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. By 2030, about 20 percent of the entire U.S. population will be 65 years or older, with many seniors susceptible to multiple chronic conditions. Faced with this increasing demand for healthcare services, changes to the system need to directly address rising costs to ensure sustainability for the future.

In a full-page ad in today’s Washington Post, and one in last week’s USA TODAY, West Health urges voters to ask their members of Congress the following questions: Do they support healthcare legislation that:

• Reduces the high cost of drugs, procedures and medical care to decrease premiums, deductibles and co-pays?
• Requires Medicare to negotiate drug prices on behalf of the American public?
• Gives patients information about the cost of their care, prior to service, so they can make informed decisions?
• Protects the most vulnerable, including older Americans, by reforming—not cutting—Medicare and Medicaid benefits?
• Requires healthcare to be paid based on outcomes and quality, eliminating fee-for-service billing, which increases the cost of healthcare?
• Puts patients’ interests over excessive corporate profits and political campaign contributions?
• Addresses the fact that Americans pay more for healthcare and get less than most industrialized countries?

West Health poses these questions to further the knowledge of the American people so they are informed for the 2018 mid-term elections, not to endorse any specific legislation or candidate.

“Seniors, especially the most vulnerable, bear the brunt of the high cost of healthcare, and also demonstrate where the system fails overall. We need to take a step back, look at the whole system, including reforming both Medicare and Medicaid, and align on common goals,” said Tim Lash, chief strategy officer for West Health. “We need better solutions than what are currently being considered, and the only way we’ll get there is with an informed public asking the tough questions, making their voices heard and their votes count. We have to ensure everyone in our country gets the healthcare they need throughout their lives.”

Along with the national ads, West Health is urging voters and other key stakeholders to become more informed about the fundamental cost issues of healthcare and create a national movement to ensure elected officials represent the best interests of the American public and the economy. More information is available at Please join the conversation about high healthcare costs on social media using #healthcarecoststoomuch


About West Health
Solely funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, West Health includes the nonprofit and nonpartisan Gary and Mary West Health Institute and Gary and Mary West Foundation in San Diego, and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. These organizations are working together toward a shared mission dedicated to enabling seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. For more information, visit and follow @westhealth.

Media contact:
Tim Ingersoll