Hastings Center debuts ‘Health Care Cost Monitor’

The Hastings Center, an independent bioethics think tank, has launched the ‘Health Care Cost Monitor,’ a blog aimed at covering the “crisis” of rising health care costs with “care, depth, and nuance.”

Daniel Callahan, co-founder, senior research scholar and president emeritus of The Hastings Center, NAS Institute of Medicine member and author will edit the blog. According to the Center, “other regular American and international contributors to the blog will include Henry Aaron, Eric Cassell, Anthony Culyer (UK), Muriel Gillick, Hans Maarse (Netherlands), Theodore Marmor, James Morone, Jonathan Oberlander, Steven Pearson, Louise Russell, Richard Saltman, Mark Schlesinger, Peter Ubel, and Joseph White.”

Here’s a look at the blog’s posts so far. Already, it has established itself as a bit more nuanced and deliberative than most blogs, with the result that it’s also quite a bit longer in form.

Speaking Truth to Evasion

Callahan argues that cost controls invite evasion, and declares that health care cost may be a more important issue than universal coverage, primarily because costs are one of the biggest obstacles to such proposals. He writes that an effective cost control plan would probably have to include some form of rationing, a practice that invites the sort of ethical dilemmas in which his Center specializes. In that vein, Callahan makes his editorial position clear: “We think it important to get a reform plan in place that will stand the test of time, one that has built cost control into it from the start, and that the public is fully informed about that necessity.”

Ending the Cost Insanity: Some First Steps

Senior Brookings fellow Henry J. Aaron dismantles the health care industry’s much-publicized pledge to cut $2 trillion in spending in the next decade, saying that the U.S. system is constructed to be “as immune as possible to health discipline” and detailing just why that is the case. He then shows why the tax burden of a universal system would be unbearable without cost reductions, and outlines a possible solution including comparative effectiveness research and spending constraints and bargaining power for government health care entities.

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