Health Policy and Austerity

Jon Oberlander has a nice piece in the NEJM discussing the implications of austerity politics on health policy. On the one hand, the need to address deficits could provide impetus to do hard things that might otherwise be impossible. On the other, hard things are hard, and it is much easier to shift costs than it is to actually reduce them (spend less as compared to what would be spent otherwise, on a per capita basis).

The blind spot for both political parties is that whether you believe in market forces or expert driven rationing to slow cost inflation (and everything in between), the last step if we succeed in slowing cost inflation in health care is that someone will get less care and/or someone will be paid less for providing care on a per capita basis, as compared to the default path we are on.

It is hard to imagine doing something this hard without both political parties being involved. And it is nearly impossible to imagine that right now.

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy at Duke University (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute). I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy, and currently serve as Chair of Duke's University Priorities Committee (UPC). My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

2 Responses to Health Policy and Austerity

  1. SteveH says:

    It was, and is, frustrating to see many on the left denouncing Obama for not pushing Medicare for All or some other variation of single-payer when they couldn’t even get a Public Option through the Senate. Really? They think the Senate would have had 60 votes for a single-payer plan? It wouldn’t even have gotten 50 votes.

  2. Don Taylor says:

    @SteveH
    I think Austin blogged today per McDonough’s book that there weren’t even a handful of votes in the Senate for Single Payer

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