Is upon us as the Republicans take control of the U.S. House and promise to repeal Health Care Reform Round One. This largely symbolic gesture – a prelude to the 2012 presidential campaign – occurs after health care costs rose four percent in 2009 – the slowest rate of increase in 50 years – and yet health spending rose to a record 17.6 percent of the economy despite the dampening effects of the recession and high unemployment.
“Obamacare” won’t fix this, although the emphasis on new methods of payment, coordination, prevention and greater transparency on the cost-benefit equation moves in the right direction. Neither will such Republican ideas as making insurance portable across state lines, eliminating the tax deduction on employer-based health insurance, and increasing “competition” – although here too there is merit, especially the emphasis on greater individual involvement and responsibility.
The only sure way to lower health care costs long-term is to stay healthy and out of the system. When people do use the system – and most everyone will at one point or another – the emphasis should be on the greatest possible benefit for the lowest or “reasonable” cost. The use of new, often high-cost procedures and products may be profit centers for suppliers and providers, but they don’t necessarily lead to better care and outcomes.
Health Care Reform Round One is a good starting point, but it could be improved – and will. In our view, calls for its repeal are more about political demagoguery than a balanced assessment of its (admittedly labyrinthine) components. We provide an overview of those aspects of the law with implications for Arizona in a recent report, ImpAct Arizona.