Health Care and the Economy

by francine Hardaway on November 2, 2009

This morning I was listening to The Diane Rehm show, because it was a segment on health care and the economy. What was amazing about the show was the consensus among guests from varying backgrounds:

Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; coauthor with Thomas Mann of “The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track.”

Bruce Bartlett, columnist, former Reagan economic policy aide, and Treasury Department appointee under George H.W. Bush. Latest book: “The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward.”

David Cutler, professor of applied economics, Harvard University, senior advisor to the Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign, and author of “Your Money Or Your Life: Strong Medicine for America’s Health Care System”

Not all people of the “left.” In fact, two people who could be expected to be on the “right.” But all in agreement that the current bill in the House has some very good things in it, and would be a good start toward health care reform, and all in agreement that if we don’t do something, we will never get the economy back on track.

These people were not saying we can’t afford to pay for health care because it will raise the deficit. They were saying that the only way to get the deficit DOWN was to pay for health care. They’re canny, savvy people who know that we pay for sick people one way or the other, and we have cost shifted and jiggled all we can with the current system.

As a group, they seemed to think we should get started somewhere, and fine tune it from there. They agreed that the cost of health insurance was making American companies uncompetitive. They also taught me that Medicare Part D cost as much as Obama’s reform plans, and every penny of it was unfunded. This deficit/budget thing is pretty complicated, and we can’t just believe the talking points.

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