Wall Street Journal Profiles White House Health Care ‘Pitchman’ Allan Hubbard
The Wall Street Journal on Monday profiled Allan Hubbard -- the assistant to President Bush for economic policy, director of the National Economic Council and the "White House's lead pitchman on the president's health care proposals."
According to the Journal, Hubbard "thinks he has found the solution for taming rising health costs" and has promoted Bush proposals to provide "bigger tax breaks" for health savings accounts and make "hospitals' and doctors' prices available to consumers." Hubbard seeks to "spur people to think about what they are spending for care, much as they do when shopping for a car or gallon of milk," the Journal reports.
Hubbard said, "When people use health care their perception is that it's free. We know they think it's free because they're not insisting on knowing the price."
According to the Journal, Hubbard "has managed to push health care to the top of the president's domestic agenda" and is "aggressively pressing health industry groups and Congress for changes he says would make consumers more responsible for their spending."
However, his proposals have raised criticism from Democrats who "say the emphasis on HSAs does little to help the uninsured and favors the healthiest and wealthiest Americans," the Journal reports. In addition, some health care providers are "wary of Mr. Hubbard's push to publicize their prices," and some economists "think Mr. Hubbard's approach to health care is overly simplified," according to the Journal (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 4/3).
"Health care is expensive because the vast majority of Americans consume it as if it were free," and "insurance policies with low deductibles insulate people from the cost of the medical care they use," Hubbard writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Hubbard writes, "Imagine how the world might look if patients, armed with information about the price and quality of health care, set out to find the best possible value," adding, "no consumer is better than the American consumer at driving prices down and quality up."
According to Hubbard, HSAs "give consumers more choices while strengthening their role in reducing waste, promoting competition and increasing value." He concludes, "By enabling consumers and doctors to make health care decisions that are right for them, we can greatly improve the effectiveness, affordability and value of our health care spending" (Hubbard, New York Times, 4/3).