Health care costs are unlikely to decrease despite reforms passed by Congress last month, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis told constituents last Wednesday night April 7.
“I must confess that I’m not expecting costs to go down any time soon. I just don’t,” Davis said in a town hall meeting in River Forest. “I have not seen the cost containment that we have heard or had conversations about.”
Lowering the cost of health care was a central goal of the reform effort as communicated by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Washington D.C. Obama used “bending the cost curve” as a political mantra of sorts throughout his 2008 presidential campaign and since taking office. Upon signing the bill March 23, the president said costs would decrease for families, businesses and the government.
Davis voted for the legislation, and has also supported a single-payer plan that would have all Americans receiving government insurance. That option, however, was not included in the reform bill passed by Congress. In a statement released by Davis on March 22 concerning the bill’s impact, the congressman noted that it would extend coverage to 52,000 uninsured residents in his 7th Congressional District. It would also improve coverage for an additional 334,000 costs.
“This is a tricky position for progressive Democrats to be in right now because people want to support the president and want to support health reform,” said Margie Schaps, executive director of Health and Medicine Policy Research Group in Chicago. “That said, the bill has a lot of problems and probably won’t bend the cost curve.”
It also fuels conservatives who can point to Davis as proof even stalwart Democrats see through the supposed savings, Schaps said. Despite the incongruity between the Democratic talking point and Davis’ assessment, constituents seemed unfazed.
“I don’t think any person of any intelligence believes that this is cost containable,” said Annette Grossi, a River Forest resident among the more than 100 people attending the town hall. More than half the questions Davis fielded related to health care.
While structural costs for purchasing insurance are unlikely to decrease, spending on health care should go down as investments in preventative health start to pay off, Davis explained.
“What will go down, I think, is the amount of money we are spending because we are actually going to help people become healthier and if people are healthy, they don’t have to have surgery,” Davis said. “If you put emphasis on wellness care, on exercise, on lifestyle, then we’re going to save a lot of money.”