October 21, 2014

Concord Coalition Urges Continued Focus on Cost Containment in Health Care

WASHINGTON -- With the Supreme Court’s decision today on the 2010 health care law, The Concord Coalition emphasized the continuing importance of cost-containment efforts as the number of insured Americans expands. 

“Despite the partisan rhetorical exchanges over today’s ruling, the fundamental fact remains that policymakers still have a lot to do to put rising health care costs onto a sustainable track,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Those rising costs, together with the aging population, are putting tremendous pressure on private companies and government at all levels in the United States, and especially the federal government.”

“The 2010 legislation included some efforts at curbing health costs, but it was always clear that more would need to be done,” Bixby added. “Although the growth in health care costs has slowed recently, the long-term projections continue to point toward an unsustainable path for our economy as well as the federal budget. With more and more Baby Boomers planning to retire in the years ahead, it becomes all the more important to pursue reasonable ways to rein in health costs.”

The Affordable Care Act contains popular as well as unpopular features. What has been frequently overlooked or ignored by some analysts and politicians, however, is that the unpopular elements were put in place to help restrain costs and make the popular ones -- often hailed by members of both parties as “common-sense reforms” -- possible.

“With the popular features continuing, it would be irresponsible for elected officials to delay the less popular provisions that support them,” Bixby warned. “That would send an unfortunate message to many voters that the popular benefits are cost-free.”

There is no time to lose, even in an election year, on efficiency improvements and cost containment. Health care costs are part of the discussion, for example, as elected officials contemplate the year-end “fiscal cliff” of scheduled spending cuts and the expiration of certain tax cuts. 

This year’s candidates for federal office should provide voters with clear explanations of their views on further health care reform. They should be as specific as possible in explaining the plans they support.

Candidates should also explain their views on bipartisan cooperation and indicate how open they are to compromise. Because the simple reality is that cooperation and compromise will be essential.

“As with federal budget reform in general,” Bixby said, “neither party has either the political strength or public credibility to push through additional proposals without taking the other side’s views into account. The November elections are not likely to change that, regardless of who wins the White House. So the sooner the two parties can focus on responsible compromises, the better they can serve the public’s best interest.”       

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The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Former U.S. Senators Warren B. Rudman (R-NH) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) serve as Concord's co-chairs.