Who will bend the health-cost curve?

Rationing. This is a contentious word that comes up often in conversations about health care cost inflation. The key debate about reducing health care costs is who will be rationing expenditures and controlling costs.

The House health care reform bill that Rep. Tim Walz voted for would create an independent board that would attempt to cut Medicare costs by rationing reimbursement to health care providers. This board would make decisions on what treatments would be reimbursed, thus potentially having life-and-death consequences. Unelected officials and Congress would be micromanaging the health care system. If providers were unhappy with the reimbursement, who would they call to address their concerns? The bureaucratic hotline number?  

Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has introduced legislation called "A Roadmap for America’s Future." Ryan’s plan would replace Medicare’s fee-for-service payment system with vouchers to purchase insurance.  Safety nets are included to help the poor and vulnerable. The plan contains free market solutions to reduce costs and makes the health care market more transparent and efficient. In the Roadmap plan, the patient is in control of their healthcare expenditure decisions. Some may argue that patients may make poor decisions and end up sick because of it. In my view, that’s another good reason to share decision making with your health care provider.

The key question is this: Who will bend the cost curve, the bureaucrats or you? Maria Poirer


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