House Panel Debates Health Reform Cost Control Solutions
Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report
Capitol Hill Watch
Apr 24, 2009
On Thursday, witnesses at a House Education and Labor Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee hearing discussed strategies to curb rising health care costs while extending health insurance to more U.S. residents, CQ HealthBeat reports. Health care reform approaches discussed at the hearing include a single-payer health care system; a “employee benefit cooperative” system in which small employers, employees and families band together to purchase coverage; a national health insurance exchange; Medicaid expansion; and changes to the current model of employer-based plans to make coverage more affordable.
David Himmelstein, a primary care physician and associate professor of medicine at Harvard University, advocated a single-payer system (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/23). Himmelstein said that he thinks a health reform modeled after the 2006 Massachusetts health insurance law “will fail” because it is “economically not viable.” According to Himmelstein, the Massachusetts law has “no means of cost containment” because the state is “increasing coverage … by buying additional insurance from (private insurers) on top of already high costs” (Wayne, CQ Today, 4/23). He added, “While reforms that maintain a major role for private insurers may be politically attractive, they are economically and medically nonsensical.”
Subcommittee Chair Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) called the discussion a “dynamic interchange” and a starting point for addressing how to provide quality insurance to all U.S. residents. Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) said, “There is obviously a great deal of disagreement and diversity here… we’ve got a long way to go here” (CQ HealthBeat, 4/23).