President Obama wants health care reform and he wants it now. In fact, he wants legislation to pass before the August Congressional recess. His view is that the American people desperately need health care reform. Mr. Obama’s promise is health care reform that controls costs, expands coverage and ensures choice. He also makes the repeated case that controlling health care costs is essential to the economy.
The problem is that legislation rushing through Congress does not control costs in the next several years and perhaps not all, period.
Here are some of the components in the legislation in current form
- Eliminate underwriting standards that restrict coverage for preexisting conditions and charge more or delay coverage for people with medical conditions
- Mandate unlimited coverage in health insurance policies and self insured employer plans
- Require full coverage with no deductibles for certain preventive services and pediatric care
- Expand coverage under Medicaid
- Establish minimum benefit requirements for employer plans
- Add long term care coverage through employers
- Reduce payments to health care providers under Medicare and Medicaid
- Expand coverage to more Americans
- Raise taxes in some combination
- Require numerous filing and reporting by employers and health insurance companies
Whether you agree that any or all of these ideas are good or not is not the issue, the issue is that each and every one of these steps will increase health care costs and related administrative expenses for many years into the future. The fact is that none of these items will stem the rise in health care costs due to medical inflation, the aging population and health status of the American public. What we do have is a formula for increased demand in health care services, cost shifting to the private sector and taking credit for savings that are little more than a wish list. Any elements of the legislation intended to raise the quality of health care or to slow the growth in health care costs are long-term goals, so long term that it is impossible for anyone to know if they will work at all.
If you don’t agree, look to Massachusetts and you will find more people covered by health insurance, a growing problem with adverse selection due to mandated coverage and the elimination of underwriting rules, ever growing costs exceeding previous budget projections and still people who cannot afford health insurance.
And, that’s the truth about “health care reform” we are so in a rush to put into law. This is not what the American people desperately need.