Paying for health care reform

More

My new column for the FT doubts that savings from greater efficiency will go very far to pay for the administration's health care ambitions, and looks at less palatable options for raising the cash.

Last week, after meeting groups representing hospitals and insurance companies, Barack Obama announced a breakthrough on reforming US health care. It was "a historic day", he said. The providers had made "an unprecedented commitment" to curb the system's costs, running at 16 per cent of gross domestic product. They had agreed, he said, to reduce growth in healthcare spending by 1.5 percentage points a year, enough to save $2,000bn (€1,480bn, £1,320bn) over the next decade.

Exactly how was something of a mystery. Was this an aspiration, a target or a forecast? Within hours all parties began clarifying the declaration to the point of meaninglessness. The producer groups, facing agitated members demanding an explanation, denied they promised anything. White House officials repeated the president's assertion, then withdrew it saying he had misspoken, then affirmed it again.

Political slapstick is routine on this issue. What matters is whether the administration, the health care industry and the US electorate are moving any closer to facing the hard choices that Mr Obama is always telling the country he is willing to confront. So far the answer is no.


Jump to comments
Presented by

Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

'Stop Telling Women to Smile'

An artist's campaign to end sexual harassment on the streets of NYC.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In