Questions Circle Over Health Reform’s Effect On Rising Costs
"The White House has started to aggressively push back against a growing narrative that pending health reform legislation doesn't do enough to control spiraling health costs," Politico reports. Peter Orszag said reporters who go "on buzz and sort of loose talk," instead of doing "the hard work," were partly to blame for the pending narrative. But "[o]ne of the most recent and damaging reports came from the administration's own independent actuary. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that the legislation passed by the House would increase health care costs by almost $300 billion over the next 10 years" (Frates, 12/1).
The Denver Post: "Requiring nearly everyone to buy insurance - pushing Americans toward preventive care at doctors' offices instead of more expensive care at emergency rooms - would cut costs long term, some argue. But whether there is much else in the national legislation to rein in the soaring cost of medical treatment is a major point of contention." The Post takes a look at five "key reforms" that some say could cut costs: The public option, taxes on expensive health insurance plans, so-called "certificates of need" that limit hospital acquisitions, payment reform such as "bundling payments," and increased transparency in health care pricing all make the list. Not surprisingly, each also has a share of critics and skeptics (Brown, 12/1).
Meanwhile, financing issues also continue to be central in reform efforts. Even if the Senate follows the House in passing its health overhaul legislation, Democrats from the two bodies will still face "yawning differences between negotiators over a funding mechanism," Politico reports in a second story. "Thus far, the White House, House and Senate have each embraced a different financing plan for its proposal - and each one is an anathema to the other players." The White House proposed taxing charitable deductions. The House would increase the income tax on the wealthy. The Senate would combine a tax on costly insurance plans and a payroll tax increase (Cummings, 12/1).