Yesterday Jay Reiff, campaign manager for Richard Moore’s run for Governor, commented to the N+O’s Dome about rival Beverly Perdue’s health plan proposals:
Campaign manager Jay Reiff told Dome Moore agrees the state should increase access to health care, but the focus should be on reducing costs.
Funny, but that line sounds like it came straight from a Senator Elizabeth Dole health policy paper where she takes the standard right-wing line that, “[d]ramatic increases in healthcare costs” are the real crisis in health care.
Of course everyone wants to reduce health costs. It’s easier said than done however. As the respected Kaiser Family Foundation reports in this primer on health costs:
Many policy experts believe new technologies and the spread of existing ones account for a large portion of medical spending and its growth.
Lots of proposals to reduce costs – electronic medical records, disease management, healthier lifestyles – will, according to Kaiser and many other experts, perhaps reduce the level of spending somewhat, but not the rate of growth in costs. Attacking overuse of medical technology is the main way to reduce growth, but also the very hardest and something that isn't going to happen quickly. What does all this mean?
It’s actually pretty simple.
Health care is expensive and while with serious cost control measures we might be able to reduce the yearly increase in premiums of people who are currently insured (a good thing), to expand health coverage to the uninsured is going to cost real money. This isn’t a secret – polling confirms that most Americans realize bringing people into the health system isn’t going to be free.
In addition, Reiff made another claim to Dome that Perdue’s health proposals will be costly:
It would cost taxpayers more than $700 million for Perdue to fully deliver on this promise.
Where did that number come from? Perdue is somewhat clear in her proposal what she estimates the costs will be for enrolling 100% kids in health coverage and getting parents enrolled. Those two proposals look like about $210 million or so to me using her own figures (based on NC Institute of Medicine data plus an additional $12 million for the state share of increased kid coverage). Add another $60 million or so for her small business deep-discount health plan proposals and you are up to $270 million. That’s expensive, but less than the $300 million we gave to Dell for locating a plant in NC.
Democrats should be having a debate on who has the best way to offer more affordable health plans to North Carolinians and not using tired old right-wing attack strategies to score political points.
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