This week in the Oval Office there was lots of talk about shaking up the health care system. For starters, President Obama brought together doctors, hospitals, insurers, and the pharmaceutical industry to discuss reducing health care costs. How much actual shaking up took place? Well, Obama extracted a promise from these folks to reduce future health care growth by 1.5% (projected growth for the next decade is 6.2% per year.) Some are grumbling that the cuts aren’t nearly enough and/or that no one’s offering specifics. But it’s a step.
The President also asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring a health care reform bill to the floor of Congress by the end of July. That’s great news for both the uninsured and for the marginally insured who still face unacceptable exposure to financial catastrophe. And for those who must make employment choices based on availability of health insurance. Hey, that’s starting to sound like a lot of us!
As the debate heats up, look for a contentious duel between advocates for increased health care coverage and those fighting rapid growth in health care costs. And check out Atul Gawande’s terrific article, Getting From Here to There, which tells the history of health care reform as a series of piecemeal efforts, and not the systemic overhaul that so many are hoping for.