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Health reform focuses on cutting costs

Gregory Warner Feb 25, 2010

Health reform focuses on cutting costs

Gregory Warner Feb 25, 2010


Bill Radke: After months of health care wrangling in D.C., lawmakers are looking to refresh the process today with a bipartisan health care summit. Now when this reform debate began a year ago,
it was about slowing the rising cost of care. And somewhere along the line, it became more about access. Well from Marketplace’s Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner says lawmakers are getting back to talking about costs.

Gregory Warner: President Obama hasn’t been shy about warning us about the rising cost of health care. Here’s his last weekly address:

President Barack Obama: We’ll see more and more Americans go without the coverage they need. We’ll see exploding premiums and out-of-pocket costs burn through more and more budgets.

His plan for reform would cut those costs by requiring all Americans to buy insurance. That’s the way insurance works. If you mandate more healthy people to buy in, there’s more money in the pool, and premiums can go down for everyone.

Henry Aaron: But if you’re gonna have a mandate, you have to have to provide subsidies, so insurance is affordable for those with relatively modest incomes.

That’s Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution:

Aaron: And if you’re going to have subsidies and not blow the budget out of the water, you’ve got to do a couple of things.

Like raise taxes, which no one likes to support, or cut spending on other aspects of health care. And that brings us back to the whole cost-cutting thing.

Here’s Stephen Zuckerman of the Urban Institute:

Stephen Zuckerman: The cost of that care and the volume of the services that people receive really may be too high.

He says health care is too pricey. And there’s too much of it.

In Philadelphia, I’m Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

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