In its first recommendation in this final study, the IOM said HHS should adopt an interim explicit life expectancy target, establish data systems for a permanent health-adjusted life expectancy target, and establish a specific per-capita health expenditure target to be achieved by 2030. “Reaching these targets should engage all health system stakeholders in actions intended to achieve parity with averages among comparable nations on health life expectancy and per-capita health expenditures,” the report noted.
Meanwhile, the committee recommended that federal spending on public health should at least be doubled to about $24 billion annually from its current estimated level of about $11.6 billion each year to meet the needs of public health departments.
“The committee reviewed a variety of options for raising funds to support an adequate level of funding for governmental public health,” the report said. “A national tax on medical care transactions, which exists in a number of states and has been used to raise funds to expand access to medical care in Minnesota and Vermont, meets the committee's three criteria for evaluating potential funding sources: ability to raise sufficient funds, pertinence or a link to population health, and low likelihood of deleterious economic effects.”
IOM committee member Dr. George Isham of HealthPartners, a Minnesota-based HMO, told reporters during a call Tuesday that the committee anticipates the tax would be on all transactions, including things such as pharmacy tests, procedures, visits and pharmaceutical drugs. “It’s difficult at any time to propose any increase in taxation,” Isham said, adding that given the tremendous and compelling need for the nation to contribute to its competitive health—in terms of workforce, productivity and efficiency—“It’s an investment we can’t afford not to make.”