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Tom Donohue: Health-Care Law Remains Fundamentally Flawed

Let's work toward a sensible solution that improves quality, expands coverage and reduces costs

By Tom Donohue |

By now, most Americans know that the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of President Barack Obama’s health-care reform law. But many are left wondering, what’s next?

Regardless of the ruling, everyone knows that we haven’t begun to deal with many of our health-care challenges and that the reform law won’t get the job done. We haven’t addressed the imperative of prudently reforming the Medicare and Medicaid entitlements. We haven’t figured out how to extend access to quality care for every American. And we haven’t come to terms with how we’re going to handle the coming wave of 77 million baby-boomers at or nearing retirement age.

We do know that the law is not living up to the promises made by the president and supporters of the legislation. Health-care costs are rising, not falling, for the federal government, employers and families.

A new Senate report projects that the law will cost $2.6 trillion by 2023 — a massive increase over the $900 billion the president initially promised. Private employer health-care costs also continue to rise, some of which will be passed on to employees. Some employers will have no choice but to stop offering coverage altogether.

Costs are rising for Americans, too. The average family has seen a sharp spike in premiums due in large part to health reform. The law also broke the fundamental promise that Americans can keep their health-care coverage if they like it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2016, 4 million Americans will lose their employer-based health insurance.

Bottom line: The law fails to implement sensible solutions to control costs, improve quality, and increase coverage. We can’t afford to settle for “reform” that doesn’t accomplish those fundamental goals.

Achieving meaningful health reform will be hard — but not impossible. We can drive down costs by implementing private-sector solutions that improve competition.

Consumers should be allowed to choose the coverage they want, and providers should be paid based on the quality of care — not merely the quantity of services rendered. Medical liability reform that curbs the need for providers to practice defensive medicine would also drive down costs. And widespread adoption of health information technology — including electronic prescriptions and medical records — could further improve quality, lower costs and reduce medical errors.

Far from putting an end to the debate, the Supreme Court ruling has only reaffirmed our commitment to get health reform right. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will work as hard as ever toward a comprehensive solution that improves quality, expands coverage, and reduces costs.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

» on 07.18.12 @ 06:13 AM

Tom, you’re right but unless we have a massive overhaul of govt in Nov, we may be stuck with this hideous law. My insurance premiums have gone up 3 times after a number of the provisions of this law has gone into effect. Also, California has made it even worse by forcing many people to get maternity coverage when they don’t want or even need it. Do our moronic politicians realize this will force premiums to go up steeply.

» on 07.18.12 @ 12:46 PM

Regarding state mandates.  These are, in a word, silly.  Some states require insurance coverage of acupuncture, other of circumcision, gastric electrical stimulation, and breast implant removal.  Why? Because states regulate insurance. 

Why not remove the state barriers to insurance, and sell across state lines?  In a word, Congress. 

Mr. Donohue makes a wonderful case for single-payer innsurance.  Why do we not have that as part of ACA?  In a word, Congress.  More specifically, the Republicans in Congress.

Tort reform is more low-hanging fruit - but again Congress is reluctant to move (ever notice how many lawyers are in Congress?).

The ACA is not the problem - Congress is.

» on 07.18.12 @ 03:39 PM

Wonky, what is it with you guys and this single payer crap? The best medicine for abusive insurance racketeering is market competition, as you said we would have if not for these idiotic interstate restrictions. Once competition is removed then the abuse begins. All single payer countries are grappling with one of two problems; premiums are rising faster than the market can pay for them or to keep premiums lower services are rationed.

But even if we correct our systems abuses by opening up market competition, it does not solve the fundamental problem with healthcare services, demand exceeds supply, regardless of funding mechanism. The more demand we put on th system the higher costs are going to be until the system is expanded to cover the demand. But who is going to pay the $2 trillion cost of this expansion? Our economy is already reeling from its inability to produce the wealth to cover our consumption, regardless of economic distribution.

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