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Senate bill draws kudos, continued doubts

J.K. Wall
December 2, 2009
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In the blogosphere, health-policy experts have given the Senate health reform bill kudos for trying everything under the sun to reduce health care spending, but there are lingering doubts about whether it will really work.

“I can't think of a thing to try that they didn't try,” Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Atlantic. “They really make the best effort anyone has ever made. Everything is in here. ... I can't think of anything I'd do that they are not doing in the bill. You couldn't have done better than they are doing.”

Even Mark McClellan, who ran the federal Medicare program for Republican President George W. Bush, praised the bill advanced by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

“It would be good if more could be done, but this is the right direction to go,” he told The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein. You can read his piece here.

But at least one ardent Obama supporter doesn’t believe it will actually happen—and he doesn’t blame Obama. He blames Congress.

Jeff Goldsmith, president of Virginia-based Health Futures Inc. and a professor of public health sciences at the University of Virginia, lists five big areas where the health reform bills count on future Congresses to make tough decisions to hold down federal spending. You can read his blog post here.

And he has no faith that they will come through.

Polls show the American people tend to agree with him. A November Quinnipiac University survey found that only one in five Americans—and only one in three Democrats—believe health care reform will not add to the deficit.

“The reason almost no one believes health reform will be deficit-neutral,” Goldsmith wrote, “is our political system’s lavishly demonstrated inability to say no to anyone.”

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