Health Care Reform: What's in It for Patients?

John Graham, director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, Calif., had an even more pointed response to the effort.

"If the interest groups in any other American industry colluded on a plan to control costs, they'd be charged under the anti-trust laws," Graham said. "The American people should not tolerate health-care interest groups collaborating with the government to form the mother of all cartels, rationing our health care to adhere to a federal budget."

Greg Scandlen, senior fellow and director of the not-for-profit organization Consumers for Health Care Choices, agreed. "This is Big Government teaming up with Big Labor, Big Hospitals, Big Insurers, and Big Medicine to divvy up the health care pie between them," he said. "All of these interest groups have proven to be ineffective at delivering value to the American people. ... Every penny they spend comes from us, the American people, and is supposed to be used for our benefit."

What's in It for Patients?

But patients won't necessarily walk away empty-handed. The moves, if properly implemented, could mean more than just cost savings for major health care players; they could also mean that more Americans will have access to the care they need.

So said Dr. James Rohak, president-elect of the American Medical Association. Along with America's Health Insurance Plans, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Service Employees International Union, the American Hospital Association and the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the AMA was one of the groups that met with the president on Monday.

Health Care Reform Could Improve Care

"I think that the important thing signaled for all of us by our meeting with the president today was that we want to take away the current problem that there are 50 million Americans that don't have health insurance," Rohak said. "We don't believe as physicians that the emergency room is the right way to have access to health care to do the prevention, screening and chronic health care patients need."

Judy Feder, professor of public policy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and senior fellow at the think-tank Center for American Progress, said that as such efforts commence, Americans will likely see some improvements in their health care -- particularly in terms of efficiency.

"I think that immediately you will see pressure on providers to provide health care that is more efficient," Feder said, adding that there will also likely be some steps toward health coverage for every American in one form or another.

But she noted that she suspects some of the stakeholders will be resistant to change.

"They may be dug into positions in which they are not willing to accept change," she said.

Still, the pressure for the major players in the country's health care arena to work together to address the problem continues to rise.

"If we don't act soon, it is possible that healthcare expenditures will absorb 30 percent of our gross national product," said Dr. David Nash, dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health in Philadelphia. "But there is no silver bullet, no single way out."

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