Solving or Adding to the Health Care Headache?

Will President Obama’s goal of signing landmark health care reform legislation by October be realized? Cam Carter, the Indiana Chamber’s federal relations authority, says no. Mike Ripley, health care policy expert, offers that if it closely resembles what is currently being debated in Washington, he hopes not.

Carter and Ripley shared their perspective and answered questions from listeners during today’s Policy Issue Conference Call. If you want all the inside scoop and you’re a Chamber member, you need to listen (next up is K-12 education — charter schools, virtual charters and state scholarship tax credits, among other topics, on August 21). From today’s event, a few tidbits:

  • Millions and billions in Washington have given way to trillions. Conservatives are looking to bring "down" the cost of a reform package to the $1 trillion level. Early estimates on just pieces of the package are at $1.6 trillion and up
  • Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf popped a few balloons yesterday with his comment: "In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a signficant amount and, on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs." Maybe that will give pause to some
  • Massachusetts, the state model of universal coverage with its program instituted by then Gov. Mitt Romney, has not worked out as intended with higher costs and lower reimbursement rates for providers causing friction
  • No fewer than five Congressional committees are currently weighing in with near total attention on this issue. Nevertheless, the deadlines of trying to get a bill through committees and floor debate before the August recess appear unreachable
  • The public plan option threatens the insurance industry as we know it

A Chamber member may have summed it up best when he questioned whether the proposals being bandied about are going to do anything to solve the problems with the health care system. That, of course, should be the bottom line litmus test of any plan.

The details and the dynamics are changing on an everyday basis. Stay tuned for more.