Romer on Health Care Costs: ‘The Nightmare Scenario is Getting Closer’

Jun 2, 2009 8:21am

ABC News' Yunji de Nies reports: The woman who describes herself as "the most passionate person for health care reform in the entire White House" told reporters yesterday that with 46 million Americans currently uninsured, the country is "on an absolutely unsustainable trajectory." The White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer spoke briefly in advance of a new CEA report: The Economic Case for Health Care Reform. The CEA is releasing their analysis of the economic impact of health care reform this morning. Romer said the bottom-line is that fixing health care is "very good for the economy." The CEA report found that currently, health care expenditures account for 18 percent of U.S. GDP and projects that by 2040, that number will grow to 34 percent. "The nightmare scenario is getting closer," Romer said. "If we don’t do this, we’re going to be facing a huge mess 30 years from now. Because a huge fraction of everything we produce will be going into health care.” The report looked at the current economic impact of health care on individuals, businesses and government, the benefits of reform, and the possible financial consequences in its absence. Romer said health care reform is incredibly important, not just for the health of the American people, but for the health of the economy. The administration's goal is to change health care in two fundamental ways. First, to cut costs by slowing the annual growth rate of health care costs by 1.5 percent, which they estimate would increase GDP by 2 percent in 2020 and nearly 8 percent in 2030. Second, the administration wants to expand coverage to the uninsured, which the report argues would "increase net economic well-being by roughly $100 billion a year, which is roughly two-thirds of a percent of GDP." They add that expanding coverage would also help to level the playing field for small businesses, many of which now struggle to provide adequate health care for their employees. Romer says she is out to make the case that health care reform "is a realistic goal, albeit a challenging one."  She formally unveils the report at the White House today at 10 a.m.

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