The Costs of Failure: Economic Consequences of Failure to Enact Nixon, Carter, and Clinton Health Reforms

Source: Karen Davis, Kristof Stremikis, Commonwealth Fund Blog, December 21, 2009

The U.S. Congress is on the threshold of historic change that will usher in a new era in American health care. In the last 50 years, three presidents–Nixon, Carter, and Clinton–have made a serious effort to enact reform and failed. The nation simply can not afford to fail again–too much is at stake for those Americans who fail to get the life-saving care they need and for those who pay the bills of ever-rising cost of health care. History makes clear that failing to act on health reform has serious and far-reaching economic ramifications. An examination of trends in health spending over the past 50 years shows that if health reform measures proposed by previous presidents had been enacted and slowed the growth in spending by as little as 1.0 or 1.5 percentage points annually, spending trends in the U.S. would have been closer to those seen in other major industrialized countries and fewer adverse health consequences and economic burdens would have been borne by American families, businesses, and government.
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