The universal health care/cost control connection is flashing all around our fair city, from Steve Bailey in the Boston Globe to Robert Kuttner (of the American Prospect) in the New England Journal of Medicine. Interesting to see their different takes on the issue. Bailey notes the growing cost estimates for continued implementation of the Massachusetts universal health care plan, and concludes that tough choices lie ahead. (See related post here on recent hysteria about the high cost of universal health care — and the three-legged stool of health reform: access, cost and quality, and the need to address each in turn.) Kuttner catalogs the malaise of the national (non-)system and concludes that universal health care and an excision of the profit motive are the only way to save us from a health care sector that could eat Pittsburgh.
Central planning (a la the British National Health Service, lauded by Kuttner) seems so far off the table in the current public debate that, while I might like it if we were starting with a clean slate, it’s just DOA. The whole concept is antithetical to this country’s approach to things. If it had any traction at all, at least one serious presidential candidate might have put it forward as a centerpiece of a health care reform plan.
I continue to believe that the only way that we’re going to be able to eat this elephant is one bite at a time — incremental change, while painfully slow, seems to be all we can do, no matter how many pols yell themselves hoarse talking about change and hope.