Current Health Care Debate Similar To Early 1990s

Armen Hareyan's picture
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In thefirst of a series of question and answer sessions with journalists on the maindomestic issues of the 2008 presidential election, the ColumbiaJournalism Review in its November/December issue interviewed JulieRovner, a health policy reporter for NPR. According to Rovner, the currentpublic discussion of health care reform "feels the same" as thediscussion in 1992 because there are "businesses complaining about healthcare costs and a worried middle class." However, the "bigdifference" between the two debates "is this sort of cynical 'beenthere, done that, didn't work' feeling that wasn't there in 1991" but isthere now, Rovner said. In addition, she added that "the numbers havegotten so much bigger": health care costs have grown; the number ofuninsured residents has grown; and the "number of solutions we've triedand that have failed has gone up that much more."

Rovner said that if changes are not made to the health care system, 78 millionbaby boomers "who are rapidly approaching Medicare eligibility will startconsuming a lot of expensive health care services," which is the"potential tidal wave of cost that we're looking at," adding,"[T]hat's the main reason that doing something about the health caresystem is an imperative."

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Rovner says that journalists can do a better job of covering the health caredebate by "putting things in context" and by doing"truth-squading when candidates start going after each other with chargesand countercharges." She added, "The big story will be whether therewill be some sort of change in the health care system, trying to cover theuninsured and controlling costs" (Lieberman, Columbia JournalismReview, November/December 2007).


Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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