As costs have rocketed up, the U.S. health care sector has grown to be a major influence on our overall economy and our nation’s fiscal outlook, for better or for worse. Health care in America has tremendous capabilities and potential, but also shows clear evidence of large gaps in quality and efficiency.
President Obama has articulated an ambitious agenda for health care reform – reducing cost growth while improving quality, maintaining choice, and providing affordable care for all Americans. Also, many health care industry leaders have stated that cost growth could be gradually reduced by 1.5 percent per year. However, questions remain: Can such reform be achieved? What are the potential economic benefits of successful reform? And what are the implications of inaction or the failure of effective reform?
On June 2, Christina Romer, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, joined Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform director Mark McClellan, Harvard economist David Cutler, and former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin to discuss health care reform and the economy. Participants discussed new evidence on the economic case for reform and the potential economic impact of achieving significant health care reform, while also addressing the risks to the economy of maintaining the status quo or failing to achieve the goals of quality improvement and cost reduction.