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Adam Smith: Don’t expand health coverage with a blank check

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on July 30, 2009 at 8:35 pm |
July 30, 2009 8:35 pm

One of our homeboy members of Congress, Adam Smith, called us from the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday morning to explain his uneasiness rushing health care reform (an uneasiness we share: see our editorial tomorrow).

“This bill is 1,000 pages long,” he said. “I just want to make sure we take time to understand it before we move forward on it."

Smith is right in identifying cost controls as the key to everything else.

"You will not be able in any sustained way to increase access if you do not control costs. There’s not enough emphasis on cost control at this point."

He argues that Medicare and other insurance plans have to move away from the traditional fee-for-service payment system, which rewards quantity of treatments as opposed to quality of outcomes.

Smith isn’t opposed to the controversial proposal for a so-called public option for health insurance, but he said if it were modeled on Medicare, it would “merely expand the inefficiencies of the current system.”

The fact is, the expense of American medical care has already broken the bank. The country has to get a lid on it. If that doesn’t happen in the current reforms – assuming they materialize – whatever comes out of Congress will be unaffordable.

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