New York Times Examines Factors Behind Rise in Health Care Costs and Number of Uninsured
A New York Times front-page feature on Sunday examined the problems behind the rising costs of health care and the increasing number of uninsured Americans. Since the lower costs seen under managed care proved to be "short-lived," several health care analysts "see no easy fixes." Although both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have begun to address the issue, they are "profoundly divided" on solutions, as the recent "deadlock" over the Medicare prescription drug benefit demonstrated. Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "No one has a big new answer on what to do about health care costs. And it's all made worse because health costs are rising in bad economic times." Bruce Vladeck, former head of CMS -- then known as HCFA -- under the Clinton administration, said, "We're back into a cycle of cost inflation and an unwillingness ... of employers and to some extent governments to absorb those costs," adding, "They are out of magic bullets." Some health policy experts say that addressing the problem of rising health care costs will take a "fundamental cultural shift in the American approach to medicine," according to the Times. In addition to the political implications of rising health care costs, the Times also highlights their impact on families, employers and state budgets and offers predictions for the future of the system. Dr. David Eddy, an independent analyst who advises health care groups, said, "As a society, sooner or later we will have to determine whether there are some benefits that are just too small to justify the cost" (Toner/Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 8/11).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.