Sometimes I like to comment with my own words, and others I just like to throw y’all some great quotes (from Maggie Mahar):
You’ve seen the headlines: “Health Care Industry Offers to Rein in Spending”; “Stakeholders to Obama: We’re Ready to Cut Costs”?
What does this mean? I think it means that the industry—and in particular the insurance industry—is afraid, very afraid that the healthcare reform train is going to leave the station without them. They’re desperate to have “a seat at the table.”
In truth, the industry is not making a concession. It is recognizing an irrefutable fact. Current spending patterns are unsustainable. The nation’s health care bill is set to grow by 6.2 percent a year over the next 10 years. Unless you expect your wages to grow by 6.2 percent a year over the coming decade, this means that pretty soon, you probably won’t be able to afford healthcare.
The National Coalition on Healthcare’s response to the news seems appropriately skeptical “We are very cautious about the particulars of the voluntary effort that groups proposed to the White House today . . Most of the measures that they cited would help to make the health care system more efficient over time, but, as the Congressional Budget Office has indicated, should not be counted on to produce substantial savings soon.”
“Moreover,” the coalition said, “voluntary efforts – without legislated requirements and enforcement – have not worked well in the past.”
In other words, this is all PR.
No doubt, the industry representatives hope that, by reaching out to the president, they will be included in discussions about how and where cuts should be made. If and when that happens, one can expect the “strange-bedfellows coalition” of doctors, hospitals, insurers, drug-makers and device-makers will break down, with each party pointing a scalpel: “Don’t cut me, cut him.”