Health care views, past and future

Last month, Woodrow Wilson School professors Paul Starr and Uwe Reinhardt offered their views of the current health care debate through two different perspectives.

In an interview with WNYC’s On the Media, Starr, the Stuart Professor of Communications and Public Affairs, discussed the past, recapping tactics used to bury earlier U.S. health reform efforts. During the late 1940s, for instance, Starr said that an American Medical Association PR effort hinted that national health care was akin to Soviet-style socialism:

“They suggested that Lenin had supposedly said that health care was the first step toward instituting Communism. There was a mythical quote that no one has been ever able to discover to that effect. And they argued that it was, you know, like a gateway drug and the beginning of a slippery slope toward government control of everything. In that period, given the Cold War, that argument was a powerful one.”

Click here to read or listen to Starr’s interview.

In a CNN.com commentary, Reinhardt, the James Madison professor of political economy, considered the future and what it might look like if the current round of health reform fails. The total yearly health spending by a typical American family has more than doubled in the last decade, and that trend, he argued, is likely to continue:

“… America’s currently insured middle class will be increasingly desperate if health reform fails. Millions more such families will see their take-home pay shrink. Millions will lose their employment-based insurance, especially in medium and small-sized firms. And millions will find themselves inexorably priced out of health care as we know it.”

Click here to read Reinhardt’s commentary.