health care

Testimony to the Budget Committee on Making Health Care Sustainable

Today, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad convened a hearing on “Putting Health Care Spending on a Sustainable Path.” I was asked to participate on a panel with David Cutler, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, and Len Nichols, Director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University.

My prepared testimony is available here. The prepared testimony of Dr. Cutler is available here. And Dr. Nichols’s prepared testimony is available here.

The full hearing can be watched here (my testimony begins around 59:20).

posted by James C. Capretta | 5:00 pm
Tags: Senate Budget Committee Chairman, health care
File As: Health Care

Health Care and the Debt Commission

Over on National Review Online, I have a new Corner post about the politics of President Obama's new Debt Commission. Here's a snippet relevant to the concerns of this blog:

Then there’s the issue of health care. The president and his advisers have said they have no intention of abandoning the health-care bills that have passed the House and Senate, despite overwhelming evidence of intense public opposition. The primary reason for long-term budgetary imbalance is out-of-control spending on health-care entitlements. And so what would the Democratic health-care bills do? Stand up another runaway health-care entitlement, of course. The Congressional Budget Office has said that the new spending commitments in both the House- and Senate-passed bills would reach about $200 billion in 2019 and increase 8 percent every year thereafter. Moreover, if enacted, a health-care bill would dramatically reduce the options available to the new Debt Commission. It would not be possible to seriously consider fundamental Medicare reforms just months after Congress voted to cut payments to Medicare providers by nearly $500 billion over a decade. Nor would Democrats go along with scaling back a new health-care subsidy program they just spent two years getting into law. Team Obama’s plan here is quite obvious:lock in a partisan health-care program over the unanimous objections of congressional Republicans, and then to try to get Republican help to clean up the government’s budgetary mess. That Republicans are resisting this one-sided game should surprise no one.

If any further evidence is needed that the Obama Debt Commission is a farce and should not be taken seriously by Republicans, it can be found in the laughable timeline the Obama White House is pushing for the commission’s recommendations and follow-on congressional action. The plan is to have the commission spend most of this year behind closed doors coming up with the most far-reaching tax hikes and spending cuts seen in a generation. Then, after voters have already cast their ballots in the mid-term congressional elections in November, the commission would make its recommendations known and the lame-duck Congress would take them up and pass them in a matter of weeks, with almost no time for public debate. And politicians wonder why the electorate is cynical.

The entire post can be found here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 2:55 pm
Tags: Debt Commission, health care, deficits
File As: Health Care