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Where is the Focus on Cost and Quality

Editor’s note: We have been talking about the lack of focus on cutting costs and improving quality as part of the health care overhaul. Finally these issues are beginning to see the light of day.


Los Angeles Times
Noam N. Levey

July 13, 2009

Although still publicly beating the drums for President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, representatives of some of the biggest players are beginning to express concern behind the scenes that it won’t do enough about the major problem: runaway medical costs.

And, some say, the ballyhooed deals the White House recently struck with hospitals and drug makers to keep them at the negotiating table could make the problem worse.

From the left, labor leaders are scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with Obama today to push for more aggressive action to hold down costs.

“We are certainly for expansion of coverage. We think every American ought to have health insurance,” said Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, one of the most influential unions. “But if that doesn’t come with making sure there is real prevention, if we’re not talking about really controlling healthcare costs, this is going to be a train wreck.”

At the other end of the political spectrum, business groups are pressing the administration and its congressional allies to attack the cost issue more directly by changing the way hospitals, doctors and other providers are paid.

“Going into health reform, there was a lot of talk from the president on down that controlling costs had to be on a par with expanding coverage,” said Steve Wojcik, vice president for public policy at the National Business Group on Health. “The priority on controlling costs seems to have fallen by the wayside.”

The Biggest Worry

Polls consistently show that Americans’ biggest healthcare worry is escalating medical bills and insurance premiums. Obama has repeatedly promised that his campaign to overhaul the system will bring relief.

But the debate in Washington has been dominated by how to raise hundreds of billions of dollars — by tax increases, if necessary — to ensure that almost everyone has medical insurance. That emphasis is stoking fears that a historic opportunity to reform the system may be missed.

The skyrocketing cost of healthcare is a large reason that so many major interest groups rallied behind the president’s effort.


July 13, 2009 - Posted by | Accountability, Cost, Federal Government, healthcare | , , , , ,

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