Alice Rivlin offers her comments on the timing of health care reform on PBS’ Nightly Business Report.
SUSIE GHARIB: Tonight’s commentator says this is the right time for health care reform. She’s Alice Rivlin, senior fellow at Brookings and former vice chair of the Federal Reserve.
ALICE RIVLIN, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS: With the economy in deep recession and the budget deficit off the charts, should the president postpone his ambitious quest for health reform? Absolutely not. He should push harder to get comprehensive reform enacted now. Millions of workers are losing health coverage along with their jobs and many more fear this will happen to them. Businesses are reducing health coverage and workers with diminished incomes are struggling to pay their doctor bills. How could we have a more dramatic illustration of why we need basic health coverage for everyone that does not depend on the ups and downs of employment? Currently soaring deficits relate to the recession itself and financial system repair. These deficits will recede as the economy improves, but the long run budget picture remains grim. The best hope for reducing the rate of growth of Federal spending in the future is making health care delivery more efficient so that we get more care per dollar. Reducing waste requires investment in information systems, analysis of effective treatments and new reimbursement systems that favor efficiency. Without comprehensive reform, the wastefulness of our current health care system will continue. Both the recession and concern about future budget deficits argue for accelerating comprehensive health reform, not retreating from it. I’m Alice Rivlin.