A lot of people who are opposed to the current health care reform bill in Congress believe that it focuses on the wrong priority: instead of working to cover everybody with insurance, as the current bill attempts, more effort should be put into lowering costs first.
I agree that lowering health care costs is just as important, and probably more so, than providing everybody with health coverage. But in my opinion, the administration is doing this in the right order by focusing on coverage first. Why? Because reducing costs will ultimately require at minimum two things: paying doctors less, and no longer paying for unnecessary tests and treatments that have no medical merit.
Remember, “reducing health care costs” directly translates into somebody, be it doctor, lab tech, administrator, and even facility support staff getting a salary cut or losing their job entirely. If the pushback against this reform bill seems bad now, just wait until the goal of reform becomes to literally put people out of work.
Given those facts, tackling coverage instead of cost first seems like the right way to go. First, it’s easier, and it at least gets the reform ball rolling. Second, you have to give people something (universal coverage they don’t have to worry about) before you can take away something else, such as the ability to have every test and treatment they think they deserve because they saw an ad for it on TV or read about it on the internet. Taking things away first is not a political winner.