Health Care Law’s Ability To Control Costs Will Be Closely Watched
The Associated Press explores cost containment under the new health law: "What's it going to cost me? That's the single biggest unanswered question about President Barack Obama's new health care overhaul law - and its weak spot. Many experts believe the law falls short on taming costs, and that will force Congress to revisit health care in a few years. For now, the political parties are too polarized - and lawmakers too exhausted - to contemplate health care 2.0. Conservatives are planning court challenges, and some Republican leaders hold out the promise of repeal. But economic reality probably will bring lawmakers back to the table."
"The problem isn't that the 2,700-page law is devoid of ideas for curbing costs. Many mainstream proposals are incorporated in some form. But what will work? While the law creates a commission to keep pursuing deeper Medicare savings, there's no overall cost control strategy and no single official to coordinate many experiments seeking greater efficiency." The AP lists the law's main cost control provisions (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/25).
The New York Times: "Con artists in several states are seizing on the public's financial struggles and confusion about the recent health care overhaul, the authorities say. So far, the frauds appear to be relatively infrequent and are often no more sophisticated than spam fax messages with blatant misspellings and no company letterhead. But they have generated warnings from state insurance departments and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. The authorities say the elderly and the poor are especially vulnerable to the bogus plans, which have names like Obamacare and Obama Health Plan and promise affordable compliance with the new law. The fraudsters often impersonate insurance agents and government workers.
"Experts advise customers that most of the frauds are easy to detect. Avoid insurers who use the term Obamacare (no such plan exists) or who say they can expedite Medicare drug coverage rebates (the government does not allow this service). And before signing anything, verify that the insurer is licensed by the government" (Brown, 2/24).
The New York Times: "In an aging population, the elderly are increasingly being taken care of by the elderly. Professional caregivers - almost all of them women - are one of the fastest-growing segments of the American work force, and also one of the grayest. A recent study by PHI National, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of caregivers, found that in 2008, 28 percent of home care aides were over age 55, compared with 18 percent of women in the overall work force. The organization projects that from 2008 to 2018, the number of direct care workers, which includes those in nursing homes, will grow to 4.3 million from 3.2 million" (Leland, 4/24).