perspective The November election could finally bring health care reform
Lori A. Loan â€™82, a hospital executive and health services researcher, believes health care reform will happen only if Congress engages in effectual health reform debatesâ€”and can find a way to pay for it.
By Lori A. Loan
ill health care reform be the cornerstone of the 2008 presidential election? As an estimated 47 million in the United States remain uninsured and health care costs continue to rise, Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about access to affordable, quality health care. Presidential candidates are talking about reforming the health care system, although few details are forthcoming. For the first time since the early 1990s, the U.S. political environment offers the real possibility of fundamental health system reform. When it comes to the comparative importance of different
issues in deciding their vote, health care has consistently been among the top three issues chosen by American voters, far behind the economy and closely behind Iraq. The Republican and Democratic candidates have provided an outline for their proposed reforms, both aimed to control costs and increase access to and quality of health care. As evidenced by the limited successes of past health reform efforts, achieving these three domains will be challenging, often requiring difficult trade-offs. There is consensus across party lines regarding the major problems afflicting the U.S. health care system â€“ it is ineffi-
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cient, harms too many, serves too few and costs too much. Numerous voter polls indicate that the majority of Americans would like to transform health care to minimize inefficiencies, but there is no broad consensus on a fix. Thus, candidates have so far refrained from conveying detailed positions regarding this complex issue to avoid voter rejection or misinterpretations. Compared to other industries providing products of similar sophistication, health care delivery is extremely fragcontinued on page 38