Monday, February 23, 2009

Orzag et al: health care reform *is* entitlement reform

A full-court press is on amongst both Obama Administration officials and progressive healthcare policy wonks to get across the point that Obama's plans to establish long-term budget discipline center on getting control of health care costs.

The core point is simple - transmitted in a few paragraphs today by Paul Krugman. The fiscal problems posed by an aging population are in themselves manageable. The burdens imposed by healthcare costs that rise 2% per year faster than GDP, in contrast, are not sustainable. Social security's long-term solvency can be secured with minor tweaks. Healthcare costs are eating us alive. As OMB Director Peter Orzag put it today at Obama's fiscal summit:
Health care is the key to our fiscal future.

So to my fellow budget hawks in this room and in the rest of the country, let me be very clear: health care reform is entitlement reform.

The path of fiscal responsibility must run directly through health care.

We also must recognize that reforms to Medicare and Medicaid will only succeed in the context of slowing the spiraling growth of overall health care costs.

Ezra Klein has a terrific column today tracing how this core claim -- "health care reform is entitlement reform" -- became a consensus among a cohort of progressive analysts and policymakers who have Obama's ear. Over at TNR, meanwhile, Jonathan Cohn is hammering home the same concept day by day (linking in the last three days to all of the above) in his new blog The Treatment. Treat yourself!

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