You won on health care. Campaign on it.
You won a victory in the Supreme Court this week. The same advisors who counseled you then are at it again. I don't know what economic accomplishments they think you should run on. I know a few things about what you've done in health care.
Health care spending growth has slowed from double digits to 4% or lower. Further, hospital admissions are down, even among insured people. Writing in Health Affairs in April Kenneth Kaufman states that "independent of the recession, other fundamental and structural changes are likely contributing to the flattening of the cost curve, and further, these changes have the potential to significantly alter the curve’s path into the future."
Kaufman quotes Jeff Goldsmith, Ph.D., President of Health Futures, Inc., who "suggests that the makeup and organization of the nation’s physicians is one source of the slowing cost growth. Physicians of the past 30 years typically practiced in solo or small group practices. Under the fee-for-service system, they were incentivized to work long hours, see as many patients as they possibly could, and buy into labs, ambulatory clinics, and specialty hospitals. As a result, they tended to be high users of inpatient and outpatient services. These more entrepreneurial physicians are now reaching retirement age and many tens of thousands are opting to exit the workforce. Replacing them are physicians of a new generation, which has different work and lifestyle expectations. For many younger physicians, owning a practice is not as important as having time to spend with the family and a steady, predictable income.
Other efforts include "moving from an activity-based business model that incentivizes utilization of services to a value-based model that incentivizes population health management across the continuum of care,"
Why aren't we seeing lower insurance premiums, then?
First, the insurance industry isn't yet sufficiently regulated. The Exchanges starting in 2014 will make regulation more likely. States can use the ACA now to regulate on their own. A progressive new Congress could create a competing public option, and allow states to create entirely public financing systems like Medicare. Secondly, the system reforms are not yet universal. In fact, some physicians are turning to "boutique" practices where they can take only wealthy patients who will continue to pay whatever high fees the docs require to maintain their incomes.
The opposition hounded Dr. Don Berwick out of his position as administrator of the Medicare program, precisely because of his expertise in the kind of system reforms that are now working.
Mr. President, you need to stand with the many patients already benefiting from the improved coverage and consumer protections provided by the ACA, and fight for a second term that will propel us forward towards universal, affordable health care.