Spiraling costs and a central debate over control continue to plague the U.S. healthcare system, with little resolution in sight, according to John Iglehart, a journalist and expert in healthcare policy.
In his talk, “Health Reform, Mounting Deficits and Partisan Politics: A Perilous Path on Uncertain Terrain,” Iglehart, founding editor of Health Affairs and national correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine, spoke to 125 luncheon guests including leading members of South Florida’s healthcare community, educators and practitioners. The event, held at Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Business Administration, was also sponsored by the Health Foundation of South Florida and FIU’s Robert Stempel School of Public Health and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The event was underwritten by Trane.
Addressing the long duration of the public-versus-private debate, Iglehart recalled one of the first articles he published in Health Affairs, in 1981. The author of the article was David Stockman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget for President Reagan. Stockman championed the free market as the best way to allocate resources. Iglehart noted that advocates of the “other side of the picture”—government regulation—had also weighed in over the years.
“That battle rages on, markets and regulation, left and right,” he said, “and neither of them to date can claim victory over controlling healthcare costs.”
Markets and politics interplay with solutions.
Potential solutions, he said, are embroiled in both politics and Americans’ tendency to allow free market solutions to govern.
“Every other industrialized nation has empowered their government with the authority they need to control spending,” he said. “We are the only society that’s been reluctant to give governmental powers that authority.”
Earlier in the day, Iglehart met with students in FIU’s Healthcare MBA program, noting “It’s great to see a group of motivated midcareer students who want to go on to bigger things in their careers.”
David Hoskinson, vice president of Mednax National Medical Group, concurred with the tone of the speech.
“There are no grand solutions,” he said. “Costs will always go higher.”
He also was pleased with the opportunities that the gathering presented.
“The networking was fabulous,” he said.