Quick Takes | Health

Broader view needed on health costs

CBO director Douglas Elmendorf testified July 16 that health reform packages under debate in the House and Senate will do little to restrain the growth of health spending in coming years. As for policies that could restrain this growth, Elmendorf identified only limiting the current tax preference for employer-sponsored insurance premiums. This was an odd choice. Given that much research (including from the CBO) indicates strong possible savings from a robust public plan, it is unclear why Elmendorf categorically ruled out this possibility. Further, as EPI’s Elise Gould notes in her research, the tax preference for employer-sponsored insurance has been around for decades, through periods of high and low inflation in health costs. In short, this tax preference should not dominate debates over restraining cost growth. -Josh Bivens

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