Governor Philip Bredesen on Health Care in The Wall Street Journal
by Philip Bredesen is a bold, nonpartisan, and definitive take on what is wrong with health care in America
, how it got there, and how we can fix it. Bredesen begins by exploring the problems with the new reform. Congress and the Obama Administration have added over thirty million more people into an obsolete and broken system, and done little to address the underlying problems, he argues. Bredesen then looks back and explains how the system evolved over the past century, from the local doctor making house calls to today’s sprawling insurance model. Although health insurance started out as real insurance to cover hospitalization, Bredesen argues that what it pays for today is vastly different: drugs, doctor visits, and the treatment of chronic disease that extends over many years. American health care, Bredesen asserts, needs to be reset on a new foundation, one step at a time. Without dealing with the tough problemscost, sustainability, and qualitytrue reform will be elusive. In Fresh Medicine,
Bredesen harnesses thirty years of experience to offer a new solution to a big problem.“American health care, which has come so far in the last century, seems now to have lost its way.
Its productivity has stagnated, with its growth in cost far outstripping its gain in effectiveness. Its blueprint is obsolete
: a design for acute illness when chronic illness increasingly absorbs our resources and shortens our lives. Entrenched interests paralyze it
just when it most needs to change and adapt.”“Our ‘reform’ wasn’t transformational,
nor was it particularly courageous. The planets were aligned: for a moment, Americans were attentive, were ready to listen and to try new things. But neither the president nor the Congressand I include both parties herewere willing to talk plainly and honestly to the American people.
They were unwilling to tell us things we didn’t want to hear or to call on us to do anything hard.”“America is on a dangerous collision course with fiscal reality that we can’t ignore much longer.
To remind us: in 2008 our Medicare program alone had unfunded liabilities of around $37 trillion. To put that in perspective, that represents a current obligation of about $280,000 for every full-time worker in America.”
“Our high cost of health care,
and its continued high rate of growth, is not the result of technology, or administrative overhead, or chronic disease, or malpractice suits, or the lack of information systems, or transparency. It’s the direct and inevitable result of our having systematically removed the economic tension between buyer and seller that makes efficient markets work.”