Op-Ed Spotlight: Orszag Says Health Reform 'Won't Break the Bank'

Yes, it is fiscally responsible, he says

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Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, has lately been in headlines more for his engagement and love child than for his day job. On Friday, he reminds readers of his actual work with a wonky op-ed about health care co-written with the health reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle. The column comes from The Washington Post--the same pages that, a month ago, carried Dana Milbank's column exploring his nerdy, unexplained sex appeal.

Orszag and DeParle defend health care reform against charges of costliness. "Some critics complain," they explain in The Washington Post, "that the administration has slipped in its commitment to fiscal responsibility in health reform. These critics are mistaken."


Some skeptics have claimed that the $100 billion in deficit reduction the president's plan would achieve over the next decade is mere gimmickry because the legislation would pay for only six years of coverage expansions with 10 years of budgetary offsets...
Instead, the savings in the president's plan grow faster than the costs over time, generating greater deficit reduction with each passing year -- roughly $1 trillion, all told, in the second decade.


Some fiscal hawks like us have also contended that we should scrap comprehensive health reform altogether and focus on "cost first" -- devoting the savings now used mostly for coverage expansions to deficit reduction instead. Even leaving aside the moral imperative of extending coverage to millions of Americans, it seems implausible that Congress would take the crucial step of creating a dynamic infrastructure for containing costs in legislation dedicated solely to deficit reduction ... Moreover, since health care is so dynamic, even if we thought we had the answer for containing costs and improving quality today, that would quickly change as health care evolved.


Fiscally responsible health reform is now eminently doable, and we have presented a plan that will significantly improve the nation's fiscal situation. All we need is the will to act.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.