Market Competition ‘Won’t Easily Cure’ Health Care, Wall Street Journal Column Says
CMS Administrator Tom Scully, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan and Federal Trade Commission Chair Tim Muris are "tired of waiting for Congress to fix the U.S. health care system" and are "using their clout to inject competition and market forces to make health care more like the rest of the U.S. economy," columnist David Wessel writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. According to Wessel, the FTC is "challenging brand-name drug makers who thwart lower-priced generics" and suing "price-fixing doctors," the FDA is considering forcing drug companies to make some drugs available over-the-counter and Medicare is examining quality "so patients can be wiser consumers." While there is "a lot to be said for bringing the market to health care," the "notion that competition might be good for the health care system isn't new," and it may be "worth pondering the difficulties," Wessel writes. First, as Harvard University economist David Cutler said, "people cost different amounts to insure," depending on their health status; "[a]djusting the insurance prices accordingly is tricky, both economically and ethically," according to Wessel. Further, Wessel asks, "If hospitals cut prices and squeeze costs, as any business would, will they squeeze out care for the uninsured?" Wessel concludes, "The health care system surely could use a dose of market medicine. But some ailments the market won't easily cure" (Wessel, Wall Street Journal, 5/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.