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Putting the Brakes on Health Care Costs: Would the Candidates’ Plans Work? Are There Better Solutions?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Polls show that health care is the #2 domestic issue facing the next president and Congress. But drilling down, it’s clear that for many consumers, business leaders and government decision-makers, this means: “Reduce my health care costs first, then let’s talk about covering the uninsured.”

For instance, when asked which one of four health issues they most wanted presidential candidates to talk about, four out of 10 respondents in an April poll chose “Reducing the cost of health care and health insurance.” Ranking second was expanding health coverage, ahead of improving the quality of care and reducing spending on government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008, Issue 7).

All three presidential candidates are taking this sort of news to heart. All have offered proposals for reining in health costs.

But would their plans actually slow the rise in health care costs, or the cost of health coverage? Are there even better solutions that the candidates aren’t talking about? The Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a June 3 briefing for reporters to address these and related questions.

Three well-known health economists assessed how well the cost containment provisions offered by Sens. McCain, Clinton and Obama would work. Speakers also presented alternatives that they judge to be more effective at constraining costs.

Panelists were Paul Ginsburg of the Center for Studying Health System Change, Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University and Mark McClellan of the Brookings Institution. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.


Ed Howard, Alliance for Health Reform, Moderator
Paul Ginsburg, Center for Studying Health System Change, Speaker
Mark McClellan, The Brookings Institution, Speaker
Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton University, Speaker

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Putting the Brakes on Health Care Costs: Would the Candidates' Plans Work? (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 6/3/2008
Event Summary: Putting the Brakes on Health Care Costs: Would the Candidates' Plans Work? (Word Document), 6/3/2008
Full Webcast/Podcast: Putting the Brakes on Health Care Costs: Would the Candidates' Plans Work?

The transcript, full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Speaker Presentations

Two Distinct Approaches to Health Reform (Ed Howard) (PowerPoint), 6/3/2008

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

Hillary Clinton's Healthcare Costs Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Hillary Clinton for President Campaign Website, 3/1/2008
John McCain's Straight Talk on Health Care Reform (Adobe Acrobat PDF), John McCain for President Campaign Website, 3/1/2008
Barack Obama's Plan for a Healthy America (Excerpted) (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Barack Obama for President Campaign Website, 3/1/2008
Analyses of the Candidates' Plans (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Bob Laszewski's Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review, 3/7/2008
Materials List (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 5/30/2008
“Candidates’ Health-Care Ideas May Not Offer Immediate Cure” (Adobe Acrobat PDF), The Wall Street Journal, 4/28/2008
“Evidence for the Effect of Disease Management: Is $1 Billion a Year a Good Investment?” (Adobe Acrobat PDF), American Journal of Managed Care, 12/1/2007
“Employers favor private-industry reforms to maintain an employer-based system” (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Employer Benefit News, 4/1/2008
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 6/3/2008
Putting the Brakes on Health Care Costs: Would the Candidates' Plans Work? (Word Document), Word Document, 6/3/2008

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

Evidence on the Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology, Congressional Budget Office, 5/1/2008
CBO Testimony on Growth in Health Care Costs, Congressional Budget Office, 1/31/2008
Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending, Congressional Budget Office, 2/1/2008
Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments, Congressional Budget Office, 12/1/2007
Technological Change and the Growth of Health Care Spending, Congressional Budget Office, 1/1/2008
2008 Milliman Medical Index, Milliman, Inc., 5/1/2008
About Those Health Care Plans by the Democrats, The New York Times, 2/14/2008
Candidates Issue Index, The Brookings Institution, 5/13/2008
Health Insurance Cost, National Coalition on Health Care, 5/1/2008
Health Information Technology: Can HIT Lower Costs and Improve Quality?, RAND Corporation, 9/1/2005
Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008, The Kaiser Family Foundation, 4/1/2008
Economic Woes Affect Americans' Views of Health Care Reform, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 5/13/2008
Problems and Priorities,, 5/25/2008
Does Preventive Care Save Money? Health Economics and the Presidential Candidates, New England Journal of Medicine, 2/14/2008
Options for Slowing the Growth of Health Care Costs, New England Journal of Medicine, 4/3/2008


Mark McClellan of the Brookings Institution, speaker at the June 3 briefing cosponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University, speaker at the June 3 briefing cosponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Paul Ginsburg of the Center for Studying Health System Change, speaker at the June 3 briefing cosponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


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