Almost one-third of procedures that doctors perform fail to improve a patients health, Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag told federal lawmakers, adding that the collective cost for those services tops more than $700 billion each year, or roughly 5% of the nations total economy. Right now we pay for more care rather than better care, Orszag said. That fundamentally has to change or else its not going to get better.
Orszag, who also spoke at a daylong healthcare reform symposium on Monday, appeared before the same members of the Senate Finance Committee who organized that event. He reiterated during testimony that misaligned payment, disparate healthcare costs and an overabundance of untested procedures have put healthcare on a fiscally unsound path, which he likened to running up credit card debt.
When youre on an unsustainable path, bad things can happen, he said.
Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general of the U.S., tied rising healthcare costs to other aspects of everyday life, including higher tuition costs and the governments overall ability to handle emergencies. The types of services that state and local governments can supply will be under a great deal of stress, he said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) called on the CBO and Government Accountability Office to study the possible development of an independent health reform board, possibly like the Federal Reserve, that would set health policy absent of political pressure. -- by Matthew DoBias