White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, who will be heading up today’s health care forum, when pressed on a conference call by TAS, could not offer a real-life instance in which a government saved money by expanding health care coverage, even though that claim is central to the Obama administration’s push to overhaul the nation’s health-care system.
In a conference call, TAS noted that efforts to expand coverage in Tennessee and Massachusetts led to exploding costs in both states, and asked for a counter example in which government was able to reduce costs by increasing coverage. Barnes did not give an example, but instead argued that the difficulties at the state level demonstrated why there needed to be a federal solution.
“One of the things that many of the governors and others in the states who have been focused on the state plans have said is in order to get costs really under control, we’re going to have to look at this issue on a national level,” she said. “States are doing the best that they can, particularly in the wake of federal inaction, but part of getting this under control will be that we have accessible and affordable health care for everyone so that we’re bringing more people into the system, and as a result of bringing people into the system, we’re also helping to drive down costs.”‘
Barnes insisted that the Obama administration would also see savings through “other efficiencies,” including Medicare and Medicaid reforms and an expansion of the use of information technology in the medical profession.
“Part of the problem is that though states are taking important steps forward, those are key, but piecemeal answers to an issue that needs to be resolved on the national level,” she said.
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