The Urgent Need for Health Care Reform

Mark B. McClellan
Mark B. McClellan Former Brookings Expert, Director, Margolis Center for Health Policy - Duke University

April 15, 2009

Mark McClellan discusses with Bloomberg News anchors Mark Crumpton and Carol Massar the urgent need for U.S. health care reform and why real reform means changing the way our health care system works.

Welcome back. Nearly 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance. What can be done to fix the system? Joining us now is Mark McClellan. He headed up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and was a Commissioner at the FDA under President George W. Bush. Mr. McClellan, welcome to Bloomberg News.

Mark, it’s great to be with you all.

Sir, given the economic climate right now, when could Congress possibly take up this issue of health care reform? Is it realistic now?

It’s in some ways more difficult, but also in some ways more urgent. We are facing some real economic difficulties, but if you look at the long term prospects for our economy, there are some very big both concerns and opportunities around health care. The concern is that with health care costs rising much faster than inflation, this is the main reason why the fiscal outlook for the government over the long term is tough; it’s a big concern for businesses about wages that they can pay their workers and how they compete internationally.

On the other hand, the real opportunity is that the United States is, in many ways, leading the world in medical technology, in medical innovation, in helping people live longer and healthier lives. So if we can get this right, if we can get health care reform that gets rid of the unnecessary costs, gets bigger emphasis on prevention and personalized medicine, it could actually be a boost for our economy, and a boost, more importantly, for the health of all Americans.

Watch the entire interview »