Iowa Events: Candidates Should Focus on Health Costs

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Presidential candidates should address rising health care costs and the resulting squeeze on other priorities in the federal budget, according to health policy experts who spoke in Iowa last week.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said partisan conflict over the Affordable Care Act had made it more difficult to have serious discussions about additional health care reforms. But he said that might change as it become clear how deeply other parts of the federal budget might need to be cut if health-care spending continues to rise rapidly.

Holtz-Eakin, now president of the American Action Forum, was joined by Concord Coalition Policy Director Joshua Gordon at a forum Thursday at Des Moines University. The Greater Des Moines Partnership and First Budget, a joint initiative by Concord and Fix the Debt, presented the program.

While health care costs are not rising as rapidly as in the past, Gordon said their future path remains uncertain while Medicare costs would soar in any case because of the aging population.

He said voters should question candidates about encouraging further experiments in improving health care and building upon those that succeed: “That’s something every presidential candidate should be expected to understand and talk about.”

The following day the Corridor Business Journal partnered with Concord for the paper’s annual Health Care Summit Coralville, Iowa. It featured Holtz-Eakin and Kenneth Thorpe, who chairs the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

“Strategies for improving the efficiency of our health care system while producing better health outcomes are critical,” Thorpe said.

External links:
Ask Candidates About Medicare Costs, Iowans Urged (Des Moines Register)
Candidates: Take the Budget Seriously (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert Bixby Discusses ‘First Budget’ Campaign on New Hampshire Radio Show
First Budget Website

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