4.04.2008

How to Fix the Health Care System

Slate magazine is running a series on how to get the country back on the right track. This entry on Health Care is interesting....The problem is daunting and screaming out to be fixed.

Since 2000, employer-based health insurance premiums have shot up 100
percent. Wage growth has hardly represented one-fifth of that. About 10
million Americans have joined the ranks of the uninsured, and according
to at least one estimate, more than 100,000 Americans have died
because they lacked access to quality care. Health costs have continued
their double-time march, and economists now estimate that, if left
unchecked, government health spending will be about 37 percent of the
GDP by 2050. Add in private health spending, and the Brookings
Institution's Henry Aron estimates that "the income that's left over
for everything else in the economy, other than taxes and private health
care spending, stops growing and … actually declines."
Of course, we know how not to fix it....
On health care, the vital question for the next president isn't merely
what to do but how to do it. Reform requires much more than a willing
executive, as anyone who worked in the Clinton White House between the
years of 1992 and 1994 can tell you. The problem is not just
policy—Washington is stuffed with wonks and idea entrepreneurs eager to
explain how to fix the health care system—it's politics. Without 60
votes in the Senate, you don't have a policy. You have a position. And
nobody is going to get good, affordable medical care from a position
paper. Sadly, there's a long history of executives coming in with a
clear position paper explaining what they want to do to fix health care
but no political strategy for how to achieve it. The next president
need not repeat that mistake. He or she needs, first, a clear political
approach—based, in part, around a solid understanding of the mistakes
made by the Clintons in 1994—that's backed up by a solid set of policy
principles.

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