CBO Gauges Health Reform Legislation

Doug Elmendorf hit the nail on the head last week when he said that the current health care reform bills inadequately address rising health care costs.

“The changes that we have looked at so far do not represent the sort of fundamental change, the order of magnitude that would be necessary to offset the direct increase in federal health costs that would result from the insurance coverage proposals."

Controlling the rise in health care spending will require bold action in three areas—how we pay for health care services, modernizing the delivery model to more efficiently prevent and manage chronic disease (particularly in the Medicare program) and streamlining the costs of administering our system.

Addressing skyrocketing health care costs will require an investment to create a delivery system centered on disease prevention and wellness. Making an investment in prevention measures, such as community health teams and transitional care models to coordinate care, would greatly reduce costs and improve health outcomes. This would require a federal investment of about $25 billion over the next 10 years with the potential of substantial savings—perhaps four times larger than the investment! Seems like a small investment compared to the $1 trillion overhaul currently on the table that doesn’t include cost controls, let alone any savings.

As mark ups continue, this is a message we must all rally around. Prevention makes people healthier and creating a modern delivery system to manage chronically ill patients saves money. This is a sound investment we’re willing to make.