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What Does Healthcare Reform Have to do With Cost Savings?

Robert J. Samuelson minces no words on healthcare reform:

It’s hard to know whether President Obama’s health-care “reform” is naive, hypocritical or simply dishonest. Probably all three. The president keeps saying it’s imperative to control runaway health spending. He’s right. The trouble is that what’s being promoted as health-care “reform” almost certainly won’t suppress spending and, quite probably, will do the opposite.

This has been the dilemma all along: this ( if “this” is universal healthcare managed by the government) is going to be very, very expensive and, unless we are talking about rationing, it doesn’t do much (anything, really) about escalating healthcare costs. As Samuleson points out, when more people have insurance paid for or subsidized by the government, it is going to get extremely expensive. The urge to use more and more services only increases.

He and others would like instead to start working on the cost end — with Medicare reform. What could that look like? Well, all of Peter Orszag’s ideas to “bend the cost-curve” could be put to the test. That means “investing in health-information technology, comparative-effectiveness research, and prevention and wellness, and by changing financial incentives for providers to deliver care more efficiently.” Many doubt there are gigantic savings there, at least immediately. But give it a try. And better yet, they might look at Medicare Part D — a popular, less expensive-than-expected program which works with private competition and no government price-fixing. Now that would be reform.


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