HEALTH REFORM: The Cost of Doing Nothing... Part 984,039,825
As we have discussed several times, doing nothing is simply not an option. We need to reform our health care system -- not despite our economic crisis, but because of the significant impact health care has on U.S. workers and businesses.
In an article for the Washington Post this morning, Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, stresses that "as we enter the homestretch, the greatest risk we run is not completing health reform and letting this chance to lay a new foundation for our economy and our country pass us by."
He states that if we do not do anything to slow the rising cost of health care, the federal government will end up spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than all other government programs combined. And our country could not afford to let that happen.
We have established that the cost of doing nothing is high, yet, as Orszag notes, some still have their reserves. These are the people wondering whether it is truly possible to achieve comprehensive health reform in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner.
But just in time for the Senate vote, Orszag takes the time to explain why in fact we do not need to fear the fiscal impact of health reform.
First, he emphasizes that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has concluded that both the House and Senate bill would reduce the nation's deficit over the next ten years (and by more in the following decade). And the CBO's analyses, he stresses, are "based on hard, tangible savings -- not on the harder-to-quantify, yet very real steps that hold the most promise of transforming health care." This is good news.
What should also come as good news is this letter to President Obama. And the fact that the four elements that this group of 23 economists (consisting of Republicans, Democrats, former Bush administration officials and Nobel laureates) believe are absolutely critical to keeping the cost of health care under control -- can all be found within the pages of the legislation currently being reviewed.
The economists argue that responsible health reform legislation must include deficit neutrality, an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, an independent Medicare commission and delivery system reforms:
Including these four elements ... will reduce long-term deficits, improve the quality of care, and put the nation on a firm fiscal footing. It will help transform the health care system from delivering too much care, to a system that consistently delivers higher-quality, high-value care. The projected increases in federal budget deficits, along with concerns about the value of the health care that Americans receive, make it particularly important to enact fiscally responsible and quality improving health reform now.
To all of you losing sleep over the impact of health reform on our budget -- rest easy tonight.