Finish the job
This week's announcement that health-care costs still outpaced inflation, coupled with the announcement of the failure to meet many of the national health objectives proposed through Healthy People 2010, reinforces the strong need for immediate action on health reform. After many months of grueling work, Congress has produced two pieces of legislation that, while imperfect, move the system in all of the right directions. Yet Congress has the opportunity to send the president a much better piece of final legislation when one seriously examines the various parts of both the House and Senate-passed bills. By taking the best of each bill Congress can craft a final bill that would cover more people than currently proposed, be more affordable and put in place reforms that move every aspect of the system toward improved quality, safety and accountability. Prevention, early intervention and health promotion must continue to be a first principle in health reform legislation. The bill should maintain a commitment started in the last administration and accelerated by this one, to ensure the next decade is one where we eclipse the world in the use of health information technology. Final legislation must maximize the use of tools present in both bills that reduce the current trajectory of overall costs to the nation and add measurable value for what we spend.
To accomplish this, everyone will have to give up something and Congress may need to dig further into their pockets to make this work. Politically, some will have to give up their "sacred cows" for the good of the population. Health reform will impact the entire nation and to that end it is critically important to public health. But more personally, it is an individual concern. Because when you or a loved one gets sick, reality steps in and we all demand the best our nation can offer. This legislation makes great strides toward that end. Congress is almost there, they should quickly finish the job.