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Concord Coalition Warns That Health Care Reform Efforts Must Improve Nation's Financial Outlook

Saturday, September 19, 2009 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, July 6 The Concord Coalition today released the sixth installment of its series on Health Care and Medicare. Entitled "Looking Beyond the Administration's 10-Year Reserve Fund: Cost Control Must Do More Than Pay For Expanded Health Insurance Coverage," the new publication stresses that policymakers must emphasize controlling costs over the long-term rather than simply paying for an expansion of coverage.

While paying for any reform effort represents an important first step in avoiding further deterioration of the fiscal outlook, that action alone will not do the heavy lifting required to remedy the unsustainable track that health care spending is already on. Rather, tough choices concerning the underlying structural problems will be required. As stated in the issue brief:

"Little will happen to contain the nation's health care costs that doesn't address the ill-managed proliferation of new technology and the propensities of the fee-for-service insurance structure to promote more services. More importantly, little substantive will happen until there is an acceptance all around -- by the public, providers, insurers, and others in the health care industry -- that sacrifice must be shared...Until the message is given and understood that all must yield something, it is hard to see how the parties will coalesce."

"What reform requires most of all, for the nation as a whole, is cost containment. Paying for expanded or universal health care requires more than balancing new expenditures with new revenues or other savings, whatever possible resources are identified and earmarked. It's a commendable track relative to past efforts to expand health care benefits, which pushed much of the payment onto future generations. But it still avoids the larger question of how to manage the nation's spiraling health care spending so that the whole system doesn't implode some day. Policymakers cannot afford to lose track of that larger question even as they battle it out over the best way to pay for health care reform in the next 10 years."

The Concord Coalition's Series on Health Care and Medicare is designed to illuminate how intertwined the health care challenge is with the nation's long-term fiscal challenge. As Congress and the President negotiate the details of health care reform legislation, it is essential that this linkage is recognized.

To read previous issues in the series, visit: http://www.concordcoalition.org/medicare/concord-coalition-series-health-care-and-medicare

The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets and generationally responsible fiscal policy. Former U.S. Senators Warren Rudman (R-NH) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE) serve as Concord's co-chairs and former Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson serves as president.

SOURCE The Concord Coalition
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