President Obama will sign a finalized piece of healthcare reform legislation within the next two months, current and former members of Congress predicted at a healthcare recent forum held by Politics magazine. "There would be too much political damage done if something doesn't pass, so Congress will find a way," Congressman Michael Burgess, MD, (R-TX) said.
But here's the rub: If reform does pass, hospitals, specialist physicians and health insurers will face the greatest risk, several speakers agreed.
"If you look at where healthcare costs come from, the hospital sector is the biggest part of it," said Christopher Badgley, vice president of state government affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. "Going forward on the healthcare policy side, you have to get everyone in a larger pool to reduce the rates, including what I call the 'young invincible.'"
For-profit healthcare creates its own risks and inefficiencies, added physician and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean (D), who spoke strongly in favor of a public option. "Every dime that is collected as profit is money that does not go to improving health. If you don't have a public option--a real public option--we're not going to allow people to make real choices. The public option is a way to get private insurers to offer Americans better choices. It's not a stepping stone on the path to a single-payer system."
More than 150 attendees from congressional offices, advocacy organizations, private industry and health insurers attended the magazine's 2nd Annual Health Policy Summit.