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Monday, June 8, 2009
Posted by Commonwealth at 3:09 PM
Citing a series of benefits to the nation's businesses, public coffers and individual citizens, Christina Romer -- chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors -- made the case for tackling health-care reform.
Romer, speaking Monday, June 8, 2009, at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, gave some backing to people who've been seeing some recovery from the nation's economic crisis, at least if one measures that by her workload. She said that in the first few months of her tenure in the Obama administration, she dealt with a number of crisis-related topics that were all in her professional comfort zone: banking, fiscal stimulus, recession. But after his first 100 days in office, Obama announced his intention to tackle health-care reform, which led Romer to come up to speed on health-care economics.
"I've gone from being a positive but somewhat passive advocate of health-care reform, to being a passionate advocate," she said of the experience.
She worked on a report that looked at the benefits and costs to the country of reforming -- or not reforming -- its health-care system. She said that by the year 2040, health-care expenditures could be as high as one-third of the nation's economy if the system isn't reformed. A failure to reform, she said, could result in stagnating take-home pay (as insurance premiums eat up an ever-larger share of income) and the number of uninsured could rise from an already-alarming 46 million to 72 million people.
But if the country can meet the president's goals of slowing the growth of health-care costs and expanding coverage to the uninsured, Romer said that significant amounts of money could be freed up for investment in other things, savings will increase (which could also result in lower interest rates), unemployment will drop, and and the inflation rate would be lower.
"Good health-care reform is good economic policy," she summarized.
You can read a copy of the report via a link on this post on the White House blog (yes, they have one, too). A critique of the report's approach from libertarian Michael Tanner of CATO Institute is here. Politico.com reports on the political give-and-take over the report.
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