Balancing Costs, Quality A Difficult Task Both In Congress And Practice

Democratic lawmakers hope to keep costs for health coverage down while, at the same time, improving benefits packages, a pair of sometimes-conflicting goals that boils down to an effort to get more for less, the New York Times reports. Democrats want to guarantee access to affordable policies for everyone by requiring insurers to accept all comers at the same rate, and subsidizing people with lower incomes. Meanwhile, they also argue that the government must define coverage levels to guarantee that people have the coverage they need if they get sick. Republicans say the coverage requirements are too prescriptive, and would only lead to higher costs for the government and some consumers (Pear, 10/5).

What those costs – or any costs in the health care overhaul legislation – will really be, presents another challenge, the Times reports in a separate story: "[N]othing is simple in federal budgeting for health care." Projected savings of $25 billion for a Children's Health Insurance Amendment placed spending at around $5.7 billion a year between 2014 and 2019. But, "[t]he projected savings did not take into account the full future cost of the children's insurance program… Senate Democratic aides say the cost is likely to be much higher — more like the $12.6 billion allocated for CHIP in 2010" (Herszenhorn, 10/5).

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