Rising Health Costs Put Spotlight on Health Care Reform Proposals
The lack of progress toward the "goal" of ensuring that all U.S. residents have affordable health coverage "is causing a slow-motion health care crisis that is already threatening the well-being of millions," the Baltimore Sun reports.
According to the Sun, there are "an array of reasons" for the recent focus on health care, including the cost of coverage, which is "rising far faster than the overall rate of inflation"; the costs for employees who are enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans "are growing while benefits are limited"; the costs of coping with severe illness "are placing a growing burden" on employees and their families; and the erosion of the employer-sponsored health care system.
A growing number of state and local governments are developing plans to expand coverage and lower costs, while at the federal level, the debate over expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program is an "opening skirmish in what is likely to be an all-out war in coming months and years over how to pay for health care in America," the Sun reports. In addition, nearly every presidential candidate has announced a proposal to control health care costs, expand access to care and improve quality. While Democratic lawmakers have "generally been proposing publicly funded alternatives" to expand and improve the availability of health coverage, their Republican colleagues have "generally proposed reforms based on more entrepreneurial concepts," the Sun reports.
Most health care professionals believe that costs could be "substantially restrained with better, more proactive management of care," according to the Sun. However, the "challenge" in reforming U.S. health care "is finding ways to provide every American with quality, affordable health care without dictating how the care will be offered" (Williams, Baltimore Sun, 10/28).