Global expert services and consulting firm Berkeley Research Group, LLC hosted an all-star line-up of public policy experts in a lively panel discussion on “Healthcare Reform: Truths and Consequences.” The event, held at the Willard Continental in Washington, DC, featured BRG special advisors Susan Kennedy, a former top aide to both Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Governor Gray Davis, and Dr. Laura Tyson, a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Jobs and Competitiveness; as well as Cato Institute Senior Fellow Michael D. Tanner. BRG Chairman David J. Teece moderated the discussion.
“The issue of healthcare is of critical importance to our nation,” said Dr. Teece. “We have assembled some of the leading experts in public policy to share their perspectives and engage our audience in insightful and thought-provoking dialogue.”
Ms. Kennedy provided an overview of the main drivers of healthcare reform: “If you look back at the history of efforts to reform healthcare in the United States, it’s been primarily driven year after year by three primary issues,” she said. “The first and most important issue is cost: the cost to the government, the cost to people, the cost to hospitals. The second is a moral issue, which is the number of uninsured – people who don’t have healthcare and people who view healthcare as a right, not as something that is a commodity to be purchased. The third is a political problem: the cost of healthcare for individuals that purchase healthcare with their premiums going up. It’s constantly a political issue in every election.”
“You can’t bring the rate of growth of federal healthcare spending down without bending the entire healthcare system line,” said Dr. Tyson. “It’s a mistake to think that you can go in and pay attention to quality and access and just bend the federal healthcare spending line. You’ve got to think about things to contain costs in the entire system.”
Dr. Tanner raised the issue of rationing. “There is no healthcare system in the world that will provide everyone with all the healthcare they could possibly want. All healthcare systems are ultimately about rationing. The question is not so much are you going to ration, but about who is going to make the rationing decisions,” he said.