Health policy: Experts debate future of U.S. health care reform law

The mid-term elections may be over, but the battle over health care reform is just beginning, according to the panel of health policy experts who spoke on Nov. 5 at an event, The Impact of the 2010 Elections on U.S. Healthcare Reform: Presented by The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health in Collaboration with Reuters. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of domestic and economic policy for the John McCain presidential campaign, and David Cutler, Harvard professor of applied economics and former senior health care advisor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, joined HSPH’s Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis and executive director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, to predict the future of the law signed by the President in March.

While the Republicans may not be able to repeal the law, they may be able to render it unrecognizable through strategic funding cuts, according to panelists. “Things that are not currently funded are easier to cut in the future than things that are already paying for people’s jobs,” Blendon said. “So there are billions of dollars that are in a bill that is to be implemented in 2014. Nobody has seen those billions of dollars. We can not pay doctors tomorrow. We can lay off teachers. We can cut back Social Security payments. Or we could take money out of a bill that most people don’t understand.”

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The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

Department of Health Policy and Management