Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wedded fiscal policy to healthcare reform, calling the union not only a social and scientific issue, but an economic issue as well.
Bernanke, who helps set monetary and regulatory policy for the nations financial markets, said that a mix of public- and private-sector reforms is needed to correct longstanding problems of poor quality and high cost across the countrys physician offices and hospitals. The decisions we make about healthcare reform will affect many aspects of our economy, including the pace of our economic growth, wages and living standards and government budgets, to name a few, he said.
Bernanke spoke in Washington as part of a congressionally organized health policy forum. Additionally, Bernanke offered a framework for a Federal Reserve-type board for healthcare. In response to a question by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Bernanke said that such a board would need to be shielded from political pressure.
While the board would have to report to Congress, lawmakers would be limited in their ability to influence its recommendations. Bernanke said that health reform is inherently political, so such a board would need very clear guidance from Congress at the outset. -- by Matthew DoBias